Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Guest post by womagwriter Sue Johnson

Today Sue Johnson offers advice on finding story inspiration.

Supermarkets and shopping malls are great places for finding characters. Choose one that has a café so that you can have some writing time when your ideas start flowing. Take a notebook with you. Put your phone away and just observe for a while. (Try to do this without staring at people too hard).

Look for three characters. Note what makes each one special. For example one might look as if something had just upset them. What was it? One might be wearing odd shoes. What happened to distract them before they left the house? The third person might look suave and sophisticated as if they hadn’t a care in the world. What is their story? Is this just an act?

Take note of anything else that interests you – advertising slogans, items in shop windows, colours, sounds, smells and textures.

Find a comfortable corner in the café. Order coffee and cake and get writing. Imagine your characters meeting here. What are their names? What do they notice about the café? What has brought them together? Write brief character descriptions. Play the ‘what if’ game. What do they most want? What is stopping them from getting it? What guilty secret do they each have that they wouldn’t want people to know about?

This exercise could be used to spark ideas for a novel linking the three characters together in some way – or you may feel you have created main characters for three short stories. Think about the time of year and the weather. When you get home, look for magazine pictures that give you further ideas about the characters.

Experiment with different types of story – e.g. romance, fantasy, ghost or crime. Turn your suave, sophisticated character into someone scary – give them matted hair, broken nails and wild-looking eyes. Have fun!

Sue can be found at www.writers-toolkit.co.uk

If you'd like even more story inspiration, try this book. There are 24 pages on finding ideas, mind mapping and expanding on what you already know. There are also separate sections on research, creating characters, selecting titles and a whole chapter on writing for the womag market.


Jo said...

Interesting post and useful tips - thanks.

Carolb said...

Enjoyed reading these, thanks. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips, Sue - always appreciated. Thanks Kate Hogan

Patsy said...

Thanks for the post, Sue. I shall be watching people even more intently now.