Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Writing Wednesdays - What to Write

So I've got up to day fifteen on my writing course - I hope it's helpful for people to see how it goes together, what happens as I construct an idea and develop characters and the worlds that they inhabit.  I'll be reviewing the entire thing on the fifth of November, but first I thought I'd return to the idea of what to write.

This is something I've already looked at here: - where I said quite simply that you should write what you want to read.  I stick by that, but thought I should maybe provide some more tips.

So here are my top tips for deciding what to write:

1.  Write what you want to read.  If you aren't interested in it, then you won't want to finish it, and the readers will be able to tell you're bored.

2. Write a genre that you love.  You know it well, and it's familiar to you.  You already have some idea of how these stories fit together, you know how they work and you enjoy reading it.  If you get stuck, this can help you to work out where to go next.

2b.  But try and put your own spin on it.  Is there a trope there that annoys you? Do you love reading fantasy but get sick of damsels in distress? This is your chance to fix it.

3.  Write what you know, covering your experiences. This works well, because you already know all about it.  You know what will happen (even if it's an adapted version), and the characters in it are familiar to you (still, be careful not to offend any friends!)

4. Write what you have to.  Sometimes there is a story in your head that you just need to get down, and it won't leave you alone.  If you have a story like this, you'll know.  Get it down, and it'll be easier.

5.  Write to work out what happens next.  Stories don't pop into our head fully formed.  If a concept intrigues you, then write it to work out what will happen.

6.  Write something for someone you care about - this often works for short stories, but can work for longer pieces.  You know the individual, and you know what they like.  You can make it as a gift, and by giving it to them, it'll be a present that they will treasure, and it will mean that it will be read.

7.  Write your dreams.  Work out what you would like to happen, create the worlds that you dream of, and have fun with it.  This is particularly good when you're starting out, to get ideas together and carrying a story from start to finish.

8.  Write your fears and your insecurities.  Write about the dark things that bother you.  This can be difficult, and you need to be careful not to push yourself into something you aren't comfortable with, but  it can really grab the reader if you put your own concerns into a character's mouth - you can understand these fears and put them across well.

9. Ask people for prompts.  Ask your friends for an idea, and try to put it down on paper - perhaps "A walk on the beach" or "Two married spies on holiday".  Use it as a start for a short story, and see if it can go from there.

10.  Write what you see.  Either go to a crowded place and look for interesting characters, making some notes, or look up pictures of interesting places - for horror perhaps look up pictures of abandoned buildings, or whatever else you would find helpful - it might help to spark an idea.

So there we go, top ten tips for what to write if you have no ideas.  Write what you want to read, a genre you love (with its own unique twist, what you know, what you have to, to work out what will happen, for those you care about, your dreams, your fears, to fill prompts, or write what you see. 

Best of luck with getting some ideas, and turning them into some words.   Feel free to suggest some prompts for me!

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