Tag Archives: Story Writing

Must Have Writing Tools for Story Outlining

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Tools and Templates for Your Story Outline

As a writer, I am a planner. I am a huge fan of outlining a story or book and find the process extremely enjoyable.

Brainstorming

Planning your book with a story outline is a great way to break it down into small writing goals, each with a focused idea.

What I love about brainstorming an outline: I can think up an idea, break it down into major scenes, and get an overall feel for the story I’m wanting to write. I can follow a general story arch and make sure that my major scenes are occurring where they need to. It’s a fun exercise that allows me to see the whole story idea come together before a word of it is actually written.


Tools

Scrivener is the number one tool writers use to write their books. It has great options for storyboarding/outlining. It formats your book for uploading to your publisher. Go check out everything this program has to offer. Honestly, if you don’t have Scrivener, I strongly suggest you make the investment. Below is my affiliate link.

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

If you have Scrivener, another great tool you may want to try is Scapple. Scapple is an easy-to-use tool for getting ideas down as quickly as possible and making connections between them. It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software—it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. If you’ve ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does. Plus, you can drag your notes right into Scrivener.


What’s Great About Outlining

  • Outlining breaks down your story idea into small enough segments that you can write about them in one sitting.
  • You can focus on one scene at a time and know where the story is heading so you can really dive into the scene with confidence.
  • You can add details concerning character development to the story arc. I actually add to my outline, about a paragraph on what’s going on in each scene, or what needs to happen, and what’s changing or coming to light with the characters.
  • You can set a milestone goal for each scene and reward yourself each time you’ve finished one. Rewarding yourself along the way will make you more apt to continue with a writing routine.

Books

Here are some great books I recommend if you’re looking to learn more about outlining.

41rtj4w2zzl-_sy346_ Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

by K.M. Weiland

 

 


Templates

For those of you who are wanting to get started right away, here are some templates that you can post up as references to help you as you work through your outline. Although there are several different plot themes you could use and many different methods of outlining, in these templates you’ll find a basic outlining method that works well for most works of fiction. However, I highly recommend reading one or more of the books above before you begin.

*Right-click on the template to save to your computer and print. Images should print as 8.5 x 11 inch or you can choose your own printing options if you’d like them smaller.

Step One: Some basics to consider before you start your outline.

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Step Two: Some pre-outline questions that will help you get started.

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Step Three: A layout of a basic story structure for reference.

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Step Four: A story outline template with the story structure highlighted where it should appear within the story arc.

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For an eye-catching book cover design

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Your Cast of Characters – The Line Up

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In our efforts to craft a new work of fiction, we writers are faced with the prospect of creating our cast of characters.  This is usually how many stories begin, with the blossoming thoughts of an intriguing personality that begins to stir in our crafty little minds.

Understanding the different character archetypes helps me when I’m putting together my character sketches. I post the different archetypes up on my wall and shuffle around different combinations on paper to get the perfect mix for each member in the cast of my story. I imagine them facing different types of situations and how they will react.

I keep the draft of my story outline close at hand to pencil in scenes that help me frame the story arc. Recalling that we all relate on some level to many aspects of the different archetypes, I set the stage. Following the rise to the climax and, finally, the ending – I create sets of scenes featuring the characters that I believe will pack the most punch and hopefully seduce my readers into becoming emotionally attached to the progression of the story. This is probably the largest element that the readers will take away from the story – how they connected with it, it’s feel.

Character archetypes fill our communities and their individual uniqueness adds to the richness of the lives we live. Archetypes represent a fundamental human collection of the different experiences we may have had in the past. They stir up deep emotions within us. These different types of personalities have been popping up in people’s lives since the dawn of time. Most of us have experienced nearly all of them, or most certainly different aspects of them unless we have been sheltered from social experiences and kept away from our community at large.

Although the following list may be information you’re already aware of, I find it helps to use this list when I’m crafting my characters and maybe you will too. It enables me to more readily imagine their traits individually, to understand what drives them, how they will react in any given situation, and what purpose they serve to the plot and other characters.

Refer to the following list when creating your characters. Supply each character with different levels of each aspect. Have fun with creating a dynamic group that will carry the weight of your story. These are the characters your readers will come to know, root for, pity, laugh-with, worry-about, despise, admire, and even love. Referring to this list can help to make your characters unforgettable.


The Four Cardinal Orientations

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The Four Cardinal Orientations define four groups, with each group containing three types (as the wheel of archetypes shown above illustrates). Each group is motivated by its respective orienting focus: ego-fulfillment, freedom, sociableness and order.


The Ego Types


innocent1. The Innocent
Motto: Free to be you and me
Core desire: to get to paradise
Goal: to be happy
Greatest fear: to be punished for doing something bad or wrong
Strategy: to do things right
Weakness: boring for all their naive innocence
Talent: faith and optimism
The Innocent is also known as: Utopian, traditionalist, naive, mystic, saint, romantic, dreamer.


orphan-copy2. The Orphan/Regular Guy or Gal
Motto: All men and women are created equal
Core Desire: connecting with others
Goal: to belong
Greatest fear: to be left out or to stand out from the crowd
Strategy: develop ordinary solid virtues, be down to earth, the common touch
Weakness: losing one’s own self in an effort to blend in or for the sake of superficial relationships
Talent: realism, empathy, lack of pretense
Also known as: The good old boy, everyman, the person next door, the realist, the working stiff, the solid citizen, the good neighbor, the silent majority.


hero-copy3. The Hero
Motto: Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Core desire: to prove one’s worth through courageous acts
Goal: expert mastery in a way that improves the world
Greatest fear: weakness, vulnerability, being a “chicken”
Strategy: to be as strong and competent as possible
Weakness: arrogance, always needing another battle to fight
Talent: competence and courage
The Hero is also known as: The warrior, crusader, rescuer, superhero, the soldier, dragon slayer, the winner and the team player.


nurse-copy4. The Caregiver
Motto: Love your neighbor as yourself
Core desire: to protect and care for others
Goal: to help others
Greatest fear: selfishness and ingratitude
Strategy: doing things for others
Weakness: martyrdom and being exploited
Talent: compassion, generosity
The Caregiver is also known as: The saint, altruist, parent, helper, supporter.


The Soul Types


explorer-copy5. The Explorer
Motto: Don’t fence me in
Core desire: the freedom to find out who you are through exploring the world
Goal: to experience a better, more authentic, more fulfilling life
Biggest fear: getting trapped, conformity, and inner emptiness
Strategy: journey, seeking out and experiencing new things, escape from boredom
Weakness: aimless wandering, becoming a misfit
Talent: autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul
The explorer is also known as: The seeker, iconoclast, wanderer, individualist, pilgrim.


rebel-copy6. The Rebel
Motto: Rules are made to be broken
Core desire: revenge or revolution
Goal: to overturn what isn’t working
Greatest fear: to be powerless or ineffectual
Strategy: disrupt, destroy, or shock
Weakness: crossing over to the dark side, crime
Talent: outrageousness, radical freedom
The Outlaw is also known as: The rebel, revolutionary, wild man, the misfit, or iconoclast.


lover-copy7. The Lover
Motto: You’re the only one
Core desire: intimacy and experience
Goal: being in a relationship with the people, work, and surroundings they love
Greatest fear: being alone, a wallflower, unwanted, unloved
Strategy: to become more and more physically and emotionally attractive
Weakness: outward-directed desire to please others at risk of losing their own identity
Talent: passion, gratitude, appreciation, and commitment
The Lover is also known as: The partner, friend, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist, spouse, team-builder.


creator-copy8. The Creator
Motto: If you can imagine it, it can be done
Core desire: to create things of enduring value
Goal: to realize a vision
Greatest fear: mediocre vision or execution
Strategy: develop artistic control and skill
Task: to create culture, express own vision
Weakness: perfectionism, bad solutions
Talent: creativity and imagination
The Creator is also known as: The artist, inventor, innovator, musician, writer or dreamer.


The Self Types


jester-copy9. The Jester
Motto: You only live once
Core desire: to live in the moment with full enjoyment
Goal: to have a great time and lighten up the world
Greatest fear: being bored or boring others
Strategy: play, make jokes, be funny
Weakness: frivolity, wasting time
Talent: joy
The Jester is also known as: The fool, trickster, joker, practical joker or comedian.


sage-copy10. The Sage
Motto: The truth will set you free
Core desire: to find the truth.
Goal: to use intelligence and analysis to understand the world.
Biggest fear: being duped, misled—or ignorance.
Strategy: seeking out information and knowledge; self-reflection and understanding thought processes.
Weakness: can study details forever and never act.
Talent: wisdom, intelligence.
The Sage is also known as: The expert, scholar, detective, advisor, thinker, philosopher, academic, researcher, thinker, planner, professional, mentor, teacher, contemplative.


magician-copy11. The Magician
Motto: I make things happen.
Core desire: understanding the fundamental laws of the universe
Goal: to make dreams come true
Greatest fear: unintended negative consequences
Strategy: develop a vision and live by it
Weakness: becoming manipulative
Talent: finding win-win solutions
The Magician is also known as: The visionary, catalyst, inventor, charismatic leader, shaman, healer, medicine man.


royalty-copy12. The Ruler
Motto: Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
Core desire: control
Goal: create a prosperous, successful family or community
Strategy: exercise power
Greatest fear: chaos, being overthrown
Weakness: being authoritarian, unable to delegate
Talent: responsibility, leadership
The Ruler is also known as: The boss, leader, aristocrat, king, queen, politician, role model, manager or administrator.

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Related:

Check out Julaina Kleist-Corwin’s video post about the hero’s journey The Hero’s Journey for Writers


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Short Form Tale In Response To: Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

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The neighbor boy called and she left the house in a hurry to ride bikes around the neighborhood. She felt a nagging in the back of her mind the instant she saw his face that this would be the last time she spent time with him. She shook her head when the idea came to her, thinking she was weird. She peddled hard and raced him to the end of the lane and passing an elegant but rundown place that almost looked like a plantation house. She immediately sensed something dark lurking there and turned away. It was all she could seem to conjure in her mind since she saw the hand the night before. This place was taking a toll on her imagination and she hated the creeps it gave her.

She was certain after only a short part of the day had passed that she really didn’t like the boy much. At her age she was equipped enough to know a little about character and make a fairly clear judgement on his. He was demanding and rude, wanting everything his way. Penelope was clever and could turn most of their disagreements in her favor. It made him slightly short-tempered and he would decide he wanted to do something else almost immediately. But she remained friendly toward him despite his behavior because of the dull nagging.

They stopped into his house for lunch made by his mother. It was a nice gesture on her part and Penelope could tell that she spoiled him. They ate in his room where her suspicion of spoiling was confirmed. He must have had all the latest toys, she surmised, as she scanned the room. He even had an old Weeble Wobble, something you punched in the face and it would pop back up from the floor to punch again because of the way it was balanced on a round bottom. He had already gotten upset about something and stomped out of the room before they had finished their lunch. She could hear him complaining to his mother.

Like a child he ran to his mother , she didn’t really even know what had made him upset until she heard his whiny voice complaining about his sandwich. She was about thoroughly disgusted with him at this point. But the nagging was there, reminding her to play nice, like she owed it to him. She was starting to wonder if she was going crazy, the world was just turning upside down with all of the recent events and the ideas that were running through her mind just weren’t normal. She had to actually try to come off as a regular girl, not that it mattered to this spoiled boy she was somehow compelled to be around today.

When he stomped back into the room he was short of breath. It was then that she decided she would just let him win because she strangely believed that today was his last and final day. This made her feel bad for him, whether it was true or not, it had set her mood. She sensed that he somehow saw his coming demise and decided that his attitude stemmed from the knowing, it made it easier for her to put up with him. They played video games for the rest of the afternoon and it surprised her that she had managed to stay around him that long. She noticed his anxiety creeping in toward the end of the day and wondered if he was tuned in to what she was feeling and thinking. Whatever the case she felt it was her responsibility to be with him today, up until he no longer allowed it she had decided.

His name was Adam, and it was bouncing from side to side in her mind now that she thought of it, leaving a trailing echo as it went. She noticed how his mouth twisted a little when he dropped to the beanbag chair and grabbed for his game controller. She wondered what he thought about right now in this moment, if he knew that it was precious time he was wasting. If today truly was to be his last day, what were to be the last of his thoughts. Considering him this way, just as a boy, a regular boy, pulled her into a sad and sympathetic place. She didn’t really know him, know what he liked, what caused him pain, what brought him joy. She felt like a heel for her earlier thoughts and held on to this communion she now found herself in.

She felt so awkward. Why was she here and thinking these things? Why did she have to start getting weird all of a sudden? Why was she seeing ghosts and what was this new-found fascination with death? None of it made any sense to her and none of the experiences she was having were pleasant. She wished hard for these things to go away, but the universe had a gift to give and she doubted she could stop it. It felt mostly bad, except for right now, hanging out with Adam.

Even though he was not someone she could easily get along with, she felt closer to him than any other friend she had ever made, whether she liked him or not. It was because she felt like she had crawled inside him, she was occupying that space and was becoming privy to his thoughts and feelings. She was getting to know him better than she had known anyone before and it was sincerity that she felt for him through this connection, tinged with hope for what he would find after death took hold of him. It was strange to say the least, but that was all just crazy thinking, she surely had to be making it all up. She had spent her day and couldn’t escape the grip of where her thoughts had led her, and were leading her still.

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Published by: M.R. Goodhew

Michelle Rene has been involved in the publishing industry for over twenty years as an author, designer, and illustrator. She is an Indie Author Advocate who volunteers her time to give back to the Indie Author Community by offering her design services four times a year, free of charge.

As an author of nonfiction, Michelle Rene writes books that serve to assist the independent author in developing their platform, discovering their brand, and creating the right look that will draw readers to them. She discusses how to navigate social media and addresses marketing tactics. For the author who sets up their web presence independently and does not wish to hire a designer, her books offer a wealth of start-up information, graphic design templates, and give crucial insight to the designers thought process which assists in the creation and design of the author’s platform.

Michelle Rene also writes fiction which falls under several genres, including: Fantasy, Drama, Young-Adult Fiction, Mystery, and Thriller. She is currently working on a series of novels whose main theme involves the mysteries of death and the afterlife.

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My Short Form Fiction In Response To: Wednesday’s Visual Writing Prompt

The foliage hung there, wet and rancid, rotting the log it clung to. Nothing could outlast the grip of the swamp, it would devour everything it touched sooner or later. Anne Alice admired the darkness that concealed small places and the water that would wet her shoes everywhere she walked about. The swamp smelled of moss and decay that suited her morbid personality. She was a courageous eight year old who was rare to fright. She never mourned for the sun, on summer days it showed itself at the brink of morning and she avoided the added heat it brought at all costs.

The swamp was her dreary playground where she dreamed up monsters and played out stories she’d stolen from her mother’s book shelf. A murderous plot made for a fun afternoon when the snails where the enemy and her bare feet were the victims. She’d often wander out to the bogs or to the shack across the stream to visit with her uncle Greg. He was fond of ghosts and had endless tales to tell her. She fantasized what it would be like to come upon a ghost in the dimly lit swamp. How amazed and curious she would be in the fading light, she thought she would be sure to chase it down and force it to answer a barrage of ridiculous questions.

The property where she lived was deep within the murky swamp. She could imagine ghosts out on the bogs, especially with reports over the years of all the people who’d gone missing. She let her thoughts drift to the stories of the lost and looked about for a place that would easily conceal a dead body, and there were many.

Dinner was not far off and her stomach reminded her with a deep growl. They ate chili with cornbread which wasn’t one of her favorites. The chili was bland and the cornbread was dry, but she devoured it thankfully. Her parents largely ignored her presence and each-others as well. It was a typical evening and she was used to the silence. She did her chores with little enthusiasm but tried to remember that helping others and giving were what her father called “two of the best darn traits a person could practice”.

Nights in the swamp seemed to drag on forever since Anne Alice’s parents had restricted her from video games, something about them rotting her mind. So she made the time pass by sneaking books from her mothers bookshelf. It was exciting because her mother had forbidden her to take books from the top shelf, and it was always the top shelf she chose from. She was reading a book called Frankenstein and couldn’t take her eyes from its pages. She fell asleep with her flashlight still lit and the story still playing out in her mind. The night was eerily quiet and the flashlight shone dimly into the corner of her room, blocked out for just a moment by a darkness that crossed the beam. She slept soundly, unaware of who’d come calling.

The shadow moved in silence, creeping close to where Anne Alice slept. It drifted eerily from side to side creating a chill where it lingered. The ray of the flashlight bobbed steadily up and down to Anne Alice’s breathing, almost touching the patch of darkness that had worked its way to the front of the bed. She wriggled under the blankets, her face scrunched in discomfort, she rolled to her other side. The shadow drew nearer still, bending over her tiny body in a smothering fashion.

There was no telling what it came for or what it had in mind for Anne Alice. The creature clung so close as if to consume her very breath. She shivered slightly against the cold and brought the blankets up close to her face. There was a clicking and turn of the door and the air rushed back out of the room into the hallway. The shadow was sucked toward the door with a force and made quickly for escape. Anne Alice’s mother entered the room and found her breath stole away. The feeling lasted only a moment when a movement from across the room had caught her eye. She shrugged it off to her tired mind playing tricks on her and so the shadow was away without much notice.

Across the swamp toward the not-so-far-off bogs it retreated. The mist didn’t stir in its passing but clung low to the watery ground. The moon shone down lighting up the low-lying fog and gave the swamp an unnerving look of gloom. The shadow soaked in the uncomfortable night and grew even darker. It clung closely to the long overgrown path that led to its dreadful residence within the bogs. The air was thick with melancholy and it slowed its forward momentum to a crawl. Weaving slowly in and out of the trees, making for a blackened stretch peat that smelled strongly of lingering decay. Into its murky depths the shadow stopped to stare. In this lonely isolated patch of the bog, within the darkness of the standing water it lay sheltered by the rotting peat. The shadow gazed upon the tiny mummified face of the little girl it once had been. A deep consuming sorrow enveloped the shadow as it looked upon the small body of her six-year-old self. The body shone, reflecting the glances of the full moon between the layers of the clinging mist. Almost aglow in the depths of the water, she resembled a long forgotten doll. If she had the means to cry, her tears would shed for the tragic truth of her fate and might never stop flowing.

In the purgatory of this place her spirit had wandered for years. The man who had abducted her was long since gone. There would be no reckoning for the evils he’d put upon her. What she longed for most was her family who had once kept her safe and warm. And by the grace of all that was good, she might have finally found someone who would acknowledge her existence and get her back where she belonged. Back in the room she had found the young girl, the sleeping Anne Alice, a girl who might hear her plea and take up the quest to find her remains. It was this curious girl who might finally return her weary spirit home. So now she would haunt her without rest in hopes of her rescue.

Again Anne Alice stirred in her bed, dreaming of a little girl who’d come to play with her in the swamp. She smiled in her sleep, she somehow knew she would not adventure alone in the days to come.


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MichelleRene004Published by: M.R. Goodhew

Michelle Rene has been involved in the publishing industry for over twenty years as an author, designer, and illustrator. She is an Indie Author Advocate who volunteers her time to give back to the Indie Author Community by offering her design services four times a year, free of charge.

As an author of nonfiction, Michelle Rene writes books that serve to assist the independent author in developing their platform, discovering their brand, and creating the right look that will draw readers to them. She discusses how to navigate social media and addresses marketing tactics. For the author who sets up their web presence independently and does not wish to hire a designer, her books offer a wealth of start-up information, graphic design templates, and give crucial insight to the designers thought process which assists in the creation and design of the author’s platform.

Michelle Rene also writes fiction which falls under several genres, including: Fantasy, Drama, Young-Adult Fiction, Mystery, and Thriller. She is currently working on a series of novels whose main theme involves the mysteries of death and the afterlife.


 

How To Get Back To Writing Fast

 

By M.R. Goodhew

If you are a writer then you probably feel compelled to write, as if somehow, something in your life has gone missing when you avoid the task of writing.

Calling yourself a writer gives your personality a certain distinguished and eccentric flair. It’s a rewarding thing to wear the title of Writer!

  • You have a creative mind that has the ability to play like movie in the heads of your readers.
  • You have toiled endlessly for what might seem like forever to bring your ideas together.
  • You work at your writing until it drives you to what can surely seem like the lands-end of your mind.
  • You bleed your thoughts and rework them until you are almost certain you have got it right, that it has come alive, that it’s heart is beating.

It is work, it is hard, it is humbling, sometimes humiliating, but the payoff is priceless when those eyes that are not yours begin to witness your creation.

It’s not about the money or the fame, or lack thereof, it’s about the beautiful thing you brought to life within a separate mind. It is a life experience you have delivered, you are a creator.

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How to Get Yourself Back To Writing!

I think the most important thing for a writer to do is carve out a section of time every day that they will commit to writing. If your not writing then your skipping work. Have you not shown up for your business of writing when you should have? There are plenty of things that can get in the way of writing, but the one thing you must do every day as a writer is write, PERIOD.

If you are feeling uninspired or timid at thought of getting started, you can use the following techniques to get some words, any words, down on paper….or into your computer. These ideas work for me when I’m really not wanting or feeling capable of getting the words out. They are my tried and true methods of getting to the business of writing.

Where to Write

Before you even get started writing you need to pick a place that suits you. Be it your most comfortable chair or the front porch, choose a place that you will return to at least once a day to work on your writing. Picking the right spot will aid your writing, but failing to do so will only keep you procrastinating. If your office isn’t built yet, then pick somewhere else to write until it is. The inability to make a decision and take action will only keep you in the same situation your in.

This place should comfortably accommodate all of the tools you use for writing, such as:

  1. You
  2. Laptop
  3. Computer
  4. Pencils
  5. Pens
  6. Paper
  7. Note-cards
  8. Notebook
  9. Journal

Create a Schedule

Make the time to write! Put aside, at the very least, thirty minutes of your time that you will use to focus on honing your writing skills or producing your next book.

You can’t keep making excuses why you cannot write, if your that sort of person, which you don’t have to be. In order to be successful at your craft you must practice it religiously. It is your job to set aside this time each day that you will devote to writing something, anything.

Get out your pencil and your calendar and sit down and think about what would be the best time of day for you to commit to the task of writing, and then reserve it. Usually the best time would be in the morning before you get ready for work, on your lunch break, or before you go to bed. The reasons why these times are typically the best are because they are when you can most likely find some alone time. If you have to start getting up an hour earlier, or going to bed an hour later, then so be it, that is your lot-in-life if you hope to be productive and successful as a writer.

Make it clear to those you live with that this is your private time and you are not to be interrupted. This is an acceptable boundary that should be respected without any problems. They can live without the stereo or TV for thirty minutes to an hour and find something to do that won’t interfere with your writing.

Show Up

Here you are, it’s 4:30 in the morning and you’ve managed to get your weary ass out of bed, cobwebs in your eyes, and your writing utensils are at the ready! Good job! Great in fact! Here you are, you’ve accomplished the hardest part, showing up!

Showing up every day is what it takes to improve your style and flow. It only takes 21 days to create a habit, so if you can show up for your writing every day for three weeks, you will have created a successful writing habit.

What to Write

Here can be the tricky part. The first day you begin your writing journey, you can start out by writing down your ideas for what to write about tomorrow. This is an initial key to success that creates a domino effect with your writing schedule. By planning a day ahead, you always ensure that you have something to write about when you show up at your scheduled time to write. When you’re done writing, write down your plan for your next session.

So now you have a plan to plan for the following session but still aren’t sure what to write about. Check out the next section which covers writing inspiration and contains valuable tips on what to write about.

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Finding Inspiration

It can be difficult when you sit down to write to come up with ideas of what to write about or to get inspired to write at all. By pre-planning, like mentioned in the last section, you will always be prepared to write when you show up. No more finding yourself staring at a blank screen and daydreaming.

The following is a list of writing ideas that should be used together, rotating between each idea. Use a combination of all of these tips to keep your writing moving forward in a diversified manner. This will give you the right exercise in areas that will strengthen your writing all the way around.

Writing for Money – Short Stories

There are several magazines that pay $500 plus for your short stories. Here is a good opportunity to take one of your ideas and expand it to 5000 to 30,000 words and sell it to a magazine for some fast cash. Here is a link to 15 magazines that pay great money for your creativity:

So how do you go about writing a short story.

1. First, Write the Basic Story in One Sitting

The first step to writing a short story is to write the  version of the story that you would tell a friend. And when you write it, be sure to write it in one sitting. Just tell the story. Don’t think about it too much, don’t go off to do more research, don’t take a break. Just get the story written down.

2. Next, Find Your Protagonist

The protagonist is the character whose fate matters most to the story. Your protagonist isn’t necessarily the narrator, nor is she necessarily the “good guy” in the story. Instead, the protagonist is the person who makes the decisions that drive the story forward.

Your protagonist centers the story, drives the plot, and his or her fate gives the story its meaning. As you move forward in the writing process, it’s important to choose the right protagonist.

3. Write the Perfect First Line

Great first lines have the power to entice your reader enough that it would be unthinkable to set your story down. If you want to hook your reader, it starts with writing the perfect first line.

4. Break the Story Into a Scene List

Every story is composed of a set of scenes which take place in a specific place and time. A scene list keeps track of your scenes, helping you organize your story and add detail and life at each step.

Scene lists do two main things:

  • Provide structure to your story
  • Show you which parts need more work

You don’t have to follow your scene list exactly, but they definitely help you work through your story, especially if your writing over multiple sittings.

5. Research

Waiting until your story is well on its way, you can keep it from getting derailed by the research process, and by this point you’ll also be able to ask very specific questions about your story rather than following tangents wherever they take you.

6. Write/Edit/Write/Edit/Write/Edit

It’s time to get some serious writing done. Now that you know who your protagonist is, have the perfect first line, have created your scene list, and have done your research, it’s time to finally get this story written.

7. Publish!

Your story is not finished until it’s published. You can submit it to magazines, or publish it as an eBook, it’s your choice. But it’s important to grow your library in order to attract readers as well as publishers. Be sure to have your short story beta read by a few people so you can spot any flaws and make last minute changes. Here is where you can go to find beta-readers https://mundusmediaink.com/beta-readers/

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a terrific way to get some writing done. When you brainstorm, write down your ideas and create a layout with them.

Generating Ideas

Rather than wait for the big idea to hit – the theme of your novel, let’s say, or the plot of your story – you start by scratching for a small idea first. The idea could come from anywhere, really.  A painting. A random item. Or something that has happened to you.

A short story needs three steps.

1. Introduce the main character and the problem or challenge that they face. The problem or challenge must give your main character some conflict and a goal or it won’t be powerful or interesting enough for a story.

2. Escalate the problem by making you main character struggle.

3. End the story with the main character solving the problem, or coming to a new understanding because of it.

For a novel your steps will be more in depth.

Act 1. – What will be the beginning of your story.

This is the opening of the story condensed into a description that you can expand upon in the first quarter of the book. Each portion listed here should follow a story arch like a short story and many writer’s end their scenes and chapters with a cliffhanger, leaving you wanting to know more.

The first quarter of the book is split up into about three chapters, and then by at least three scenes in each chapter. Think of each of these sections as there own short story that leads to the next section and follow the main story arch with your ideas.

Chapter 1. – Your introduction

Scene 1. – Introduce the main character

Scene 2. – What are they on the brink of doing

Scene 3. – What external situation will require their attention

Chapter 2. – Introduce a problem or conflict.

Scene 1. – What is the goal of your protagonist?

Scene 2. – Introduce some conflict.

Scene 3. – What is preventing your protagonist from resolving the conflict?

Chapter 3. – Escalate the Problem.

Scene 1. – What is your protagonists internal conflict?

Scene 2. – Introduce your antagonist.

Scene 3. – Escalate the problem.

Act 2. – What will be the middle of your story.

This is where everything seems to go wrong for your protagonist. This is there time of learning, a time where they reach their lowest low. By the end of the act, the protagonist will have a clear vision of what they must do and the lessons learned to make them successful.

Chapter 4. – Your protagonist has discovered the conflict and begins to go on the defense.

Scene 1. – How will the protagonist approach the conflict defensively?

Scene 2. – What incident is occurring concerning the conflict?

Scene 3. – Your protagonist makes their first discovery about the conflict and it rocks their boat.

Chapter 5. – Introduce a problem or conflict.

Scene 1. – What is the goal of your protagonist?

Scene 2. – Introduce some conflict.

Scene 3. – What is preventing your protagonist from resolving the conflict?

Chapter 6. – Escalate the Problem.

Scene 1. – Enter the antagonist. What mischief are they up to?

Scene 2. – How does the protagonist react and defend against the antagonist

Scene 3. – Your protagonist suffers a devastating loss, failure, or lesson.

Act 3. – What will be the end of your story?

This is where your protagonist gains some courage and goes on the offense. They may have a plan but they begin to take action to resolve the conflict. This is where your final conflict will occur and then the climax of your story. And then finally the outcome and ending.

Chapter 7. – Your protagonist has discovered the conflict and begins to go on the offense.

Scene 1. – How will the protagonist approach the conflict offensively?

Scene 2. – What incident is occurring concerning the conflict?

Scene 3. – Your protagonist makes their next discovery about the conflict and will use it to their advantage. A small victory,.

Chapter 8. – The final battle

Scene 1. – What is the goal of your protagonist?

Scene 2. – Introduce some conflict.

Scene 3. – Escalate the conflict.

Chapter 9. – The climax.

Scene 1. – Here is the battle

Scene 2. – Here is the climax of the story

Scene 3. – Here is the end of the story

Writer’s Prompts

Writer’s prompts are a great way to get some creative writing down on paper. Writer’s prompts can be words, phrases, or visual aids. You should find a weekly prompt or two on your network and follow them to improve your writing skills and to come up with story ideas.

I offer a visual writing prompt every Wednesday that you can link to in the comments with the html address of your published prompt writing. So this is also a great way to network. There is also a tool where you can submit your writing to find out what famous writer you write like just for fun.

Writer’s prompts are inspiring when you participate with them and can make you feel like you are accomplishing a real achievement, which you are. When you respond to a writer’s prompt you are stretching your creativity as well as perfecting your skill as a writer.

Visual Aids

You can use visual aids around your house or find an image online that inspires you to write. Then sit down and map a short story to your idea inspired by your visual aid.

You Tube

By watching YouTube videos on subjects that interest you you may become inspired with a short story idea or an idea for a novel. Remember that your short stories only have to be as long as an article or blog post. You can always expand upon them later.

Blog Posts

Get inspired by your network. Read blog posts and comment on them. This is not just an opportunity to express your voice as a writer, but an opportunity to create a better rapport with the members of your network. Yes, accomplishing two goals in one!

Write your own blog post. You should be posting to your blog at least once a week, regularly in order to grow and keep your network. Do not use your writing session to do research. Unless it’s for the layout of an article that you will be writing down ideas for. Below are examples of how to layout your blog posts.

free templates for creating five different types of blog posts:

  • The How-To Post
  • The List-Based Post
  • The Curated Collection Post
  • The SlideShare Presentation Post
  • The News-jacking Post

How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow

1. Understand your audience.

Before you start to write, have a clear understanding of your target audience. What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?

2. Start with a topic and working title.

Before you even write anything, you need to pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start with.

3. Write an intro (and make it captivating).

First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they will stop reading even before they’ve given your post a fair shake. You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.

Then describe the purpose of the post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be having. This will give the reader a reason to keep reading and give them a connection to how it will help them improve their work/lives.

4. Organize your content.

Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info so readers are not intimidated by the length or amount of content. The organization can take multiple forms, sections, lists, tips, whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!

To complete this step, all you really need to do is outline your post. That way, before you start writing, you know which points you want to cover, and the best order in which to do it.

5. Write!

The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. Now that you have your outline/template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and be sure to expand on all of your points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, do additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points.

6. Edit/proofread your post, and fix your formatting.

You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging, don’t overlook it.

7. Insert a call-to-action (CTA) at the end.

At the end of every blog post, you should have a CTA that indicates what you want the reader to do next, subscribe to your blog, download an eBook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article, etc. Typically, you think about the CTA being beneficial for the marketer. Your visitors read your blog post, they click on the CTA, and eventually you generate a lead. But the CTA is also a valuable resource for the person reading your content, use your CTAs to offer more content similar to the subject of the post they just finished reading.

8. Optimize for on-page SEO.

After you finish writing, go back and optimize your post for search.

Don’t obsess over how many keywords to include. If there are opportunities to incorporate keywords you’re targeting, and it won’t impact reader experience, do it. If you can make your URL shorter and more keyword-friendly, go for it. But don’t cram keywords or shoot for some arbitrary keyword density, Google’s smarter than that!

9. Pick a catchy title.

Use good keyword phrases as titles that convince your audience they need to check out your blog post.

10. Publish

Character Sketches

You can use your writing session to do a character sketch of one of your characters.

CHARACTER SKETCH

Scenes

You can use your session to work out a scene from one of the layouts you’ve created above.

 

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Editing

Make time for editing, you can include this in your writing time you have allotted. Editing is by far the most crucial step for the writer. Taking your work and tearing it to shreds and rebuilding it into something more masterful is a skill that practice will reward.

Take the time to do at least three rounds of edits on any piece of writing you will want to share. Be sure not to edit until you have completed the first draft, because getting that first draft down and done is essential to moving forward, and stopping to edit will ruin your flow and can sometimes stop you from ever finishing the piece.

Finally…

If you incorporate the ideas above, you will never run out of things to write.

What do you do to find inspiration?