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Kick Start Your Writing

October 28th, 2011

As a children’s author one of the most frequent questions I get asked is “where do you get your ideas from?” I don’t usually struggle to think of an idea, I have a notebook full of them! But just in case I get stuck, I have some tried and trusted ways to kick start my writing and thought I’d share them with you:

1) For me, the character always comes first. I have to know who my story is about before I can write it. So if I’m stuck on a character, I flick through a magazine and find a picture of someone that interests me; a child, man, woman or animal. Then I really think about that character, what sort of person they are, where they live, what they like, dislike, who their friends are, etc. I write a short paragraph about their main personality traits and by the time I’ve finished I’ve usually got a story idea about them buzzing through my head.

2) Alternatively, you could try looking through a magazine of newspaper and find a picture of a house that interests you. Imagine what sort of person lives there, what their life is like. What sort of problems would they have? How did they get the house? Was it left to them in someone’s will? Did they win the lottery? Are they a secret millionaire? Use your imagination and you’ll be amazed what ideas you’ll come up with?

3) Do some freewriting. Write whatever comes into your head, without thought of whether it makes sense or not, don’t even think about grammar and spelling. You could start off by giving yourself the opening line of a story. Remember, write the first thing that comes into your head. The very first thing. Even if it’s something like ‘I opened the curtains and saw a huge crater where my front lawn should be.” Carry on freewriting for a while then read through it and you might be surprised to find that you’ve got a gem of an idea.

4) Close your eyes and imagine a scene. It can be anywhere you want, the beach, a rainforest, a snowy mountain. Use your senses and imagine what you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Now put someone in that scene. Who are they and what are they doing there?

I hope these ideas help. If you’ve got any different ways you use to ‘kick start’ your writing then do let me know!

Short Bio

Karen King has been writing children’s books since the mid-eighties. She’s written for many children’s magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. Some of her short stories were featured on Playdays BBC and some of her poems on the BBC One Potato, Two Potato website. She writes for all ages and in all genres. Story books, picture books, plays, joke books, she’s written them all!

She tutors for the Writer’s Bureau and runs writing workshops in schools.

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