Writing 101: Story Starters

Inspiration has a funny way of choosing not to strike when you decide it should. When authors want to write, but don't have anything to write, they may turn to story starters to get those creative juices flowing again. So what the heck are story starters? 

Starting a Story...

There are lots of reasons why it's hard to start writing on a blank page. You may not have any ideas that you feel wild about. You may find yourself feeling restless, unable to settle on a single idea. You may keep re-writing an opening line, only to erase and try it again.

Once, when I was participating on a writing panel, another author told a story about someone who had writer's block. He wanted to write but didn't know what to write, so he just sat down and started describing the house he was staying in. It was a friend's. He began to describe and write, and this is how the novel Ragtime was born. Time magazine rated the book in one of their Top 100 lists, and it's highly regarded among readers and critics. 

I realize now that this act was a story starter. E. L. Doctrow didn't have any ideas, but he was inspired by what he saw...so he started to write about it. Inspiration doesn't always take the form of a whole story. Sometimes, that comes later.

Even if you start out with something very small, your inspiration could blossom and become an amazing novel. So come up with some story starters of your own based on what you're thinking about in any given moment. Try describing the people you know, or a relationship you've had, a bad habit you can't break, a favorite hobby. Maybe write about something you've learned, or a unique person you've met. 

I like to imagine things about the strangers I see out in the world. Look around you. Is that woman in the line at the store a former French spy on the run for her life? That stressed-out mother of two, is she having a torrid affair with a bag boy? 

Story starters may not always become novels, but they can help you learn how to flex your creative muscles. When you learn how to take an idea and put it on the page, writing an entire book can't be too far behind.

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  1. A very inspiring post. I related to not having ideas I feel wild about. Sometimes I feel that I have nothing new to add to all the writing out there. I really liked the suggestions of simply writing what I see as inspiration. Thanks for posting this. :)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Carol! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post