Friday, July 6, 2012

61 More Thought Starters to get you in the Write Frame of Mind

You can CLICK HERE and get 61 More Thought Starters in an convenient pdf ... or just keep reading.



  1. If you know every characters’ internal and external motivation before you start writing, you’ll be less surprised by their actions. 
  2. Give your protagonist a nervous tick or habit that reveals their character. Make them fold a napkin, slurp a straw, twirl their hair or check their phone incessantly.
  3. To find fictional names, open up a magazine and scan the masthead of editors and contributors, then combine the first or last name with a noun. 
  4. Often the best villains are the ones that practically mirror the main character except in one or two areas.
  5. If your antagonist showed up in an art gallery what pieces would they gravitate to and how long would they stay?  
  6. How would you feel if you were in a cafe and you learned another writer was looking at you, getting inspiration for their villain? 
  7. What trait do you personally have that would serve your antagonist well?
  8. What would happen if you changed the gender of every character in your story and started over? Would your characters be the same if you changed their race, or age? If not, you might not have enough life in them yet. If you change those identities, your characters should change. If they don't, you’ve got some more work to do. 
  9. What would your story's antagonist blog about?
  10. Put your characters in conflict. Make them uncomfortable and write them out of a predicament.
  11. What would happen if one of the characters you created tweeted you?
  12. Pick up on a random conversation at a cafe and then imagine the backstory or create a new one.
  13. Characters that have at least one thing that others admire about them, and one thing that makes them an ass, gives them realism.  
  14. Run your characters through something like a Facebook 20 questions and see what they would answer. 
  15. Sit your characters in front of Google. What would they do?
  16. Would you like to have dinner with your character, or are you worried that they may think you're too boring? Would they pick up the tab? 
  17. What’s an interesting and potentially awkward dinner topic to have with the characters you create?
  18. Be careful of developing crushes on your characters, they don't love you nearly as much. What if they did?
  19. Interview your fictional character. 
  20. Open Cosmo or whatever magazine they would read and have them take one of the quizzes.
  21. Do you know if your characters are left or right handed or are you just assuming? 
  22. Insult your characters and pick a fight with them. See what they do.
  23. Your characters will tell you when the words don't feel right. Until then, let them talk. 
  24. Give your villains something to love and your heros something to hate.
  25. When you can't write, plot. When you can't plot, write.  
  26. Google as your character for 5 minutes then look at your search history. TaDa! Their personality is revealed.
  27. Sometimes you have to silence your pen to hear your character speak.
  28. Make your character arc match your character ache.
  29. Write on index cards, then shuffle them until a story emerges, then write to bridge each card. If stuck, skip around.
  30. Never neglect the middle of your story. Why? As in life, your middle makes an impression to those who you've enticed to look.
  31. It doesn't matter where you start. It only matters that you start, and then finish. It won't be complete otherwise.
  32. Typos are the cowlicks of a writer's life. Tidy up, but don't be fussy.
  33. The beginning is a great place to start, but anywhere will do.
  34. Make villains do three things expected and two things unexpected.
  35. Pay attention to your villains. Know their internal / external motivations & conflicts as well as any other character.
  36. The 'villain' can be a clash within the Hero's value system.
  37. The villain is the personification of an obstacle to the Hero. It’s fun when an obstacle can't be easily assigned to a person.
  38. It's killer when the Hero & Nemesis see themselves in each other's eyes and are disgusted by the view.
  39. Make your nemesis & hero have 80% - 90% in common with each other then highlight what's different.
  40. One person's hero is another person's nemesis.
  41. Inspiration is the spark that starts you on your path. Discipline is the fuel that keeps you following it.
  42. Voice is your wardrobe & comportment. You can change it, but generally you don't. You stay in a range that fits the occasion.
  43. Find your voice by looking at your body of work. Voice is bigger. It's there all along. Change it if you want to.
  44. Books have been published about discarded shopping lists. Ignore people who say, "No one will read ..." They lack imagination.
  45. Don't beat yourself up as a writer. Pay professional editors to do that for you. Struggle with editing. Don't struggle with writing. If you’re creating a story you get to make things up.
  46. Desire is easy. Commitment takes work.
  47. The writer is responsible for building a relationship with a reader. This is accomplished through writing.
  48. Hope is a vital ingredient, not the meal. A day with only hope is destined to disappoint. A day with no hope is destined to fail.
  49. Pacing ebbs and flows like a tide. It's predictable, but sometimes a storm wrecks havoc. The storms are your plot points.
  50. Try to write while standing up. You're voice will have more authority and less entitlement and whining.
  51. Plot your life as you would your stories. Fill them with interesting characters to face predicaments in a setting you enjoy.
  52. Read something important. Learn something important. Write something important. Do something important. Not for yourself, for others.
  53. Want to write? Schedule the time in your calendar and keep your appointment. When it's time to write - write.
  54. Writers pluck inspiration from air and color them with ink. Those who are successful get readers, who begin to think.
  55. The written word can been consumed in many places. 
  56. If you feel "stuck" in a first draft, you're not understanding the concept of a "first draft."
  57. Answer the question "What happened?" in an intriguing way sprinkled with grace, humor and urgency.  
  58. Sometimes the piece you're working on is like unrequited love. You may be lavishing it with unwelcome attention.  
  59. Decision by indecision is the plague of progress. Errors can be fixed, but change can never occur unless one acts.
  60. The greatest obstacle for a writer is perfection. Their fear of it, or their belief that they have obtained it. 
  61. Craft trumps inspiration, but without inspiration, craft is crap.


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