Sunday, July 22, 2012

Now What Do I Write About?

Ah, the Writing Process. It can be fun...or a pain!

Now that you are ready to begin writing a story for whatever purposes, you will need to select what it is you want to write about.

This step in the process is usually the easiest step for me because I have about one thousand stories in my head! Many of those stories have been there for decades just waiting for me to put them down on paper for others to read.

Some are better than others. Some would make better screenplays than books, but they are there...bugging me to put them down on paper.

But what if you don't have any idea what to write about next?

What do you do then?

The Big Ideas

In the writing process, it's always best to begin with the Brainstorm.

This is where you take a break...relax...and jot down any ideas that come to your mind. Still stuck? How about looking at some prompts for ideas?

Your worst day ever
Your best day ever!
Favorite restaurant
Best class you ever took
Favorite teacher
Favorite vacation experience

...and on and on.

For my next project, I remember how the idea came to my mind as though it was yesterday:

I was subbing for a 6th grade teacher back in 2005. I had to give a spelling test to the class. As I read the words, I noticed they seemed to link together nicely as though they were taken from a story.

So, I used the words to create a story as I gave the test.  I had to say the word, then use it in a sentence. The kids seemed to like my story line. It was a murder mystery!

And now, seven years later, I am finally putting that story down on paper. It has been haunting me for all those years! It feels good to finally organize those thoughts into a book.


Still having trouble? Try freewriting for a few minutes. Just let your mind wander about a certain topic or idea...

Jot down anything that comes to mind. Nothing is wrong in this exercise.

Did that help?


Now that you have some words or ideas written down, it's time to collect those ideas. Start to organize your thoughts. Do some light research if you need to. Collect some facts or details.

Begin to construct an opening paragraph or scene.

How does that feel? Is the story coming together for you?


Now it's time to make connections.

Start to write your first draft thinking about your readers. What would they need to know about your topic? Who are your characters? What's the hook in your story?

Don't think about it, just write it down.

Now read it.

Is there anything missing? Holes in your plot? Need more facts or details?

Now is the time to go back and add them...

Thinking Like A Writer

With that first draft, see if you can find someone brave enough to read it for you.

Listen with care to their suggestions and comments.

Think like a writer. How can you make your story better?

So, how has this process helped you? Perhaps you are already past all these steps and ready for a beta reader to read your manuscript.

Well done!

Most writers need a little push past that first step in selecting what they want to write about. Some topics are more intimidating because they require some in depth research and study while others are pure fantasy.

Either way, I hope the selection process doesn't slow you down. Take the time to really think about what it is you want to write about next. Make sure it is something you are passionate about. Perhaps try a topic you've always wanted to write about but were afraid to try.

Go for it!

But most importantly...just write!



  1. I'm in the midst of brainstorming my second novel, and a lot of these ideas have worked well for me! I wish I had a thousand story ideas in my head! :)

    1. Good for you, Lindsay!! I am brainstorming my next project, too, and have even written a few scenes.

      So far, so good!

      Can't wait for the conference. Yay! :)

  2. Really great tips, Ruth! I'm working on a book now, but as soon as it's done, I want to plot a full series. My thoughts go so many directions when I even try to think about it. Love your advice for brainstorming and making connections. :)

    1. Me too! I am plotting out a 7 book series now. It's pretty challenging but fun too. I find the steps in the writing process do help.

      Thanks for visiting Melissa!

  3. Great suggestions once again Ruth. I loved it all.

    1. Thanks Tracy! The writing process really does work. I'll be teaching my students this in the fall.

      Thanks for visiting!!