Lesson 5: How do you get and develop ideas?

By this point, you should feel empowered. You know what drives a story. You’ve broken down a number of stories for their structure. You’ve started to become attuned to your grunts and aahs as you read. You should feel confident in your ability to discover how a story is doing what it’s doing and the conditions that produce certain effects in readers.

If you don’t feel that yet, go back to lesson three and four and repeat the activities.

If you do feel this growing sense of writerly power and enlightenment, guess what? It’s only half the equation.

To be able to write killer stories you have to know:

  1. What a story is supposed to do.
  2. How the 5 parts of story—character, setting, problem, plot, and text–do that
  3. How to come up with and develop a story idea
  4. How to get the work done

You’ve started to discover number 1 and 2. But let me tell you, knowing how stories work and how to invent them are two very different things.

You don’t want to be a reviewer or editor. You want to be a creator. And creation requires additional skills.  So in this lesson I’m going to share some of the key principles of creation.

Can you create a redneck crapper?

Please start by reading these three posts.

Open your notebook and write down a brief summary of the main ideas of each of those essays. Talk to your buddy about any ideas that you felt were unexpected, useful, or questionable.

2 Power Tools

Now some of you might be saying, well, that redneck crapper stuff is all fine and good, but I still don’t feel like I know how to get the ideas. I can’t see how it’s done on purpose instead of on accident. That’s how I felt too. And that’s why I’m so excited to introduce to you two techniques I’ve found super powerful in helping me get ideas.

The first is hunting zing. The second is creative question and answer. Please read these three posts.

Open your notebook again and write down a brief summary of the main ideas of each of those essays. Talk to your buddy about any applications you see or any questions you still have. If you want to see more examples of how authors use creative Q&A, read these posts.

I hope by this point you feel like you have an idea of how to identify what you need to develop (“No Clue, No Solution”) and a number of effective ways to go about doing that (hunting zing and creative Q&A) because in the next lesson you’re going to put everything you’ve learned up to this point into practice. In the next lesson,  you’re going to start developing your story.


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