Friday, September 6, 2013



"If you want to be a writer but have nothing to write about, you'll be like a knight in armour, searching for a damsel in distress to rescue."
-from Write a Novel and Get It Published by Nigel Watts

I've felt like that before. About three years ago, my well of story ideas ran dry. For a few years before that, I had been pulling old manuscripts out of my drawer and bringing them back to life. One day I realized I had used them all up. Relying on ideas from my years as a teacher wasn't working anymore. And I exhausted my ranch and life with horses as a source of inspiration. Help!

Fortunately, that depressing time didn't last too long. A spark here, a spark there and I was back in business. Now I have lots of ideas and not enough time!

Some tips that have worked for me:

1. Look into your own life, the things you know well and love to do. 

My historical Max and Ellie series was inspired by an
 article in a Canadian history magazine.
2. Write about what you want to write about, not what you think will sell or what you should be writing.

3. Read newspapers and  magazines, keeping an eye out for an interesting character or setting.

4. Ask yourself What if?

5. Get involved in a new hobby or activity.

7. Experiment with a list of opening lines or catchy titles.

8. Think about your childhood - especially the times you were afraid, embarrassed or excited.

9. Research a topic that interests you.

10. Read books or google a period in history that you find fascinating.

11. Think about the books you love and ask yourself why.

12. Keep a notebook of ideas.

13. Write anything (blogs, journal entries, letters) while you are waiting for your muse.

A few tips I've never tried but who knows?

1. Pull out two random words from a dictionary poge and develop a story around them.

2. Listen to music.

3. Look through a book of quotations and use that a starting point.

Not every idea is usable. You must be excited about it. A book takes a long time to write and you will have to stick with through good days and bad days. If you're not excited, you're more likely to give up.

You'll know when it's a great idea. Images, lines of dialogue, characters will start popping into your head. You're ready to take off!  


My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

There are three books in this series, all published over 60 years ago, and they are real gems. They are fantastical tales, written in short chapters, and filled with delightful illustrations and maps.

The titles are My Father's Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland.

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