The No-Nonsense Guide to Turning Ideas into Stories

“I have an idea for my next bestseller!” It’s one of the most exciting thoughts that can keep a writer fueled up for days. But your excitement can simmer down if you don’t work on turning that idea into a full-fledged story—a story your reader finds hard to put down, even for a bathroom break.

So, how does it happen? How do you convert that tiny seed of an idea in your brain into a giant beanstalk? How do you turn it into a story that grips your reader till the very end and have them rave endlessly about it to their friends?

Simple. You work on it every day. You work on your idea and patiently advance through all the stages of idea metamorphosis. It’s simple but not easy. Somedays, you’ll find yourself discarding pages of the bad ideas you’ve written. Other days, you won’t be able to stop typing even when your partner is yelling at you to get your butt to the dinner table.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on turning ideas into stories to make it easy for new and budding writers on the path of self-publishing. Hopefully, this no-nonsense guide will prevent millions of ideas from dying a painful death.

Brainstorm Till Your Brain Storms Off

Pen down your idea as soon as you get it. Write it on your phone, your tablet, or any piece of paper in front of you. You may think – “Pfftt, I don’t need that. I don’t even write my grocery list.” However, writing helps to remember your ideas more vividly. You are also likely to take your ideas more seriously. Also, pro tip; make a grocery list to avoid last-minute poor food choices.

After writing down the idea, set a time to sit down and brainstorm. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing an essay, a short story, or a novel. Brainstorming helps you explore all the facets of your idea without the fear of being wrong or sounding silly.

While brainstorming, you are speculating endless possibilities and questions that you can answer through your story. So, it doesn’t need to make sense. Use this activity to dump all the possible ideas about the topic. You may not use all of them, but who knows how a word or phrase can inspire you during writer’s block.

Once you’ve done the initial brainstorming, it’s time for a more focused one. Some great brainstorming methods include mind mapping to form a connection between different ideas and visualize a story. Use the freewriting technique to explore a particular direction of your idea. Write without worrying about grammar and other details for a decided time. You’ll be surprised at the outcome.

Research All the Way

The next crucial step to saving your ideas is to research. Once you have a general idea about what you’re going to write, head to the internet or local libraries for extensive research. Read up on similar genre stories and essays as your topic. It will bring clarity to your ideas.

If you’re writing period/historical novels or stories based on specific cities or cultures, visit those places for a clearer insight. If your bank account begs for mercy, a budget-friendly way to research is having a conversation with people who have visited or lived in those places.

If you’re writing about a particular profession, meet people working in the field to include fact-based data in your stories. Research helps you gain confidence and grip over your idea. You are more likely to finish off a story that you’ve researched.

A person copying notes from a laptop

Craft a Plot

Once you’ve done with everything mentioned above, it’s time to craft your central plot. By this point, you’ll already have a general idea about the world your story is based in. The next step is to create a premise for the plot. A story’s premise is two-three sentences long and communicates the essence of the story.

Many writers find it tough to transition from premise to plot. Not going to lie – it’s not a piece of cake but also not a pain in the neck like some writer might think.

Use simple writing prompts to ask yourself helpful questions about the story. Create an outline for the plot by diving deeper into the conflict that you’ll be discussing. Explore your story’s world and craft out diverse character paths to add more substance to the subplot.

All these things will help you mine out a central idea and a theme around which your story will revolve.

Character Development, Goals, and Conflicts

Characters are the heart of a story. They drive the story and lend meaning to it. Ever find yourself loving a story because of how well the writer wrote a character? We’re sure you have! Character personalities can easily make or break a story idea.

Develop the personality, likes, dislikes, appearance, and tone of your main characters to bridge the gap between the idea and story. Spend time working on what motivates them, the trials they face, and the conflicts they resolve. That is what compels your reader to turn the next page.

Usually, character and plot development go hand in hand. Work on the GMC to avoid reaching a dead plot end with your characters. GMC (Goal, Motivation, and Conflicts) helps you know what your main characters want, why do they want it, and what is stopping them from having it.

Don’t force yourself to create a conflict. Let it arise naturally through the character’s action. Write down events as you progress through the story and tweak it later on during the process.

A woman writing in a notebook

The Secret Sauce

The secret sauce you were here for; keep it simple. Simple doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Simple means setting achievable goals and working on them every single day. For example, you can tell yourself that I’ll write an initial draft in the next 10 days. It’s better than telling yourself, I’m going to write a novel in two months – that’s intimidating.

Essentially, work on your goals. If you say you’re going to sit and write for the whole afternoon, do it. Don’t set yourself up for failure because that just drains all your motivation.

An author typing a story on a laptop

About Reid Champagne

Reid Champagne is a famous American humorist and author – who has been writing satirical stories for the last 35 years. He’s also a humorous travel writer who seeks the funny side of real-life situations.

Reid Champagne is also one of the best humor columnists in America and the author of An American Walkabout; a book on innocence and self-discovery. On his blog, Reid shares funny and witty insights on food, relationships, travel, and lifestyle.

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