Extract from podcast episode 1 (August 2010) – ideas

In this section of the podcast I provide a couple of ways of getting story ideas as well as some sentence starts picked at random from my http:\\twitter.com\sentencestarts page.

  • Newspapers are a wonderful source of inspiration. Many books have been written about major true stories but it’s the weird and wonderful that I like. My second novel is inspired by a true story.
  • Word webs are great way of kickstarting a story. They look like a spider’s web with a key word in the middle and various strands from the outside. One keyword I’ve used in class is ‘merry’ whose offshoots ranged from Christmas-themed or having too much to drink, to synonyms such as happy (which in turn lead to birthday and then card), rhyming words such as ‘ferry’ which had Brian (the lead singer from Roxy Music) and Across the Mersey. Then there are antonyms such as ‘unhappy’ leading to, in our case, lonely and then to The Beatles song Eleanor Rigby. The idea of writing a word web is to get the mind working but you can also use aspects of the associated words produced; for instance, using ‘merry’ as the original inspiration you could write a story about a Christmas Party featuring a couple called Eleanor and Brian who are talking about (or taking) a ferry trip as a birthday present.

In the podcasts I started with three sentence beginnings (which you can obviously use anywhere in a story) but then, because it’s a weekly podcast, upped it to seven a while later. These were episode 1’s…

  • Sam felt the bullet rip the material…
  • The door was plain other than one word carved carelessly into it…
  • Ellis turned the corner and gasped…

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