You only need one idea to write a story. Just one. Not even a great one. Greatness comes later. You must meet your idea with curiosity, patience and the willingness to set proper boundaries—oh, and the most powerful outlining method to turn any idea into a story!
But wait, how do you even find an idea in the first place?
Meet Your Creative Genius
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk explains that the Ancient Greeks believed our ideas come to us through a genius. These ethereal beings pass ideas to us mere mortals, much like we pass on the common cold. Great. But what does this mean for us, modern-day writers?
It means we listen. We listen for the ideas that pass through us without judgement; nothing grows in the shadow of judgement. So meet your ideas with kindness and curiosity, or the genius will find someone else to take care of them.
Grow the Idea
Gently plant your idea in one place so it can firmly take root. For example, journals, Google Docs or the notes app on your phone are fertile places for ideas to grow.
Whisper words of encouragement to your idea by asking questions such as:
Now you’ve exhausted these questions; your idea will need added nutrients. Read everything that relates to and inverts your story.
Your research will take time to break down into scrummy story-growing compost. That’s ok. Enjoy this season of the writing process.
Setting Creative Boundaries
Imagine being dropped into a room with no walls, floors or ceilings. Scary, huh? Fear is what your ideas will feel without boundaries. Creativity, counterintuitively, loves confinement. All that hard work you’ve put into growing your book will wilt without proper parameters.
Keep your ideas safe and contained by:
Keep these boundaries at the forefront of your mind while you outline and draft your story. You’ll thank us later.
The Most Powerful Outline
The secret to turning your idea into a book is to boil it down to its most potent form: a 50-word outline. Let’s look at an example:
A young boy finds out that he’s a wizard. He enters the wizarding world to start his magical education. Only then does he discover there is an evil wizard bent on turning the world of magic upside down. The boy manages to keep the evil wizard at bay, for now.
This roadmap is rather dull. But every chapter, scene and sentence in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone works hard to nudge this basic premise forwards. And, well, you know what happened next.
Notice how this summary mirrors the Save The Cat Beat Sheet:
Pretty neat, huh? Once you’re mastered this outline, it’s a simple case of rinse and repeat:
And turn any idea into a story.