Editor's note: This is the start of a series I ran long ago to guide young writers looking to write their first story. I thought it would be fun to republish them.
Every piece of writing--short story, news article, or novel--starts with an idea. But where do those ideas come from? To tell you the truth, an idea can come from anywhere. That sounds easy and hard at the same time.
Think about places I've been that would be good settings for a story. The village of Calendria in my book, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel is based on Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.
Watch people and how they act. This might spark an idea for a character that will lead to a story idea.
Think of an outrageous situation. What would happen if martians beamed down into a zoo? How about if dolphins could talk, and they started talking to a fisherman?
Try word association. Write down the first noun you can think of. Then write down a verb, then another noun. Here's an example: monkey, steals, snow. Now, that might spark something. What kind of story could you write about a monkey that's stolen snow? If you don't like that one, try it again.
Finally, always carry a pen and a notebook with you. You never know when an idea will strike, so you need to be ready.
I hope this helps get you started. Next week, we'll talk a little about what to do once you have your idea.
How do you come up with story ideas? Let me know in the comments section!