Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Soul Searching For Ideas

Does your writing lack bite? Are your stories pleasant to read but that's about it? Are you actively looking for ways to up the stakes in your plots?

The key to writing gripping fiction is to have loads of conflict. Since we're continuing our discussion on gathering ideas, I thought we should look within ourselves to find our conflict triggers.
Photo by emifaulk
That's right. We're soul searching today.


Oh, stop worrying! It won't be that bad!
Think about the following questions and write down your answers. If one stumps you, just move on to the next. Sometimes it isn't easy knowing ourselves.
  • What are your biggest fears?
  • What's the best thing that could happen to you?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What topics make you see red?
  • What topic do you avoid discussing at all costs?
  • What trait do you not always like in yourself?
  • What's your best trait?
  • Do you like the way you look?
  • How do you think others view you?
  • Do you wish they saw you in a different light?
  • What traits do you deplore in others?
  • What traits do you admire?
  • Who do you look up to?

Feel free to add to this list. I don't know, maybe you think about these things all the time, or maybe you're aware of them without doing the exercise. Answering them did not come easily to me!

Don't worry if the questions make you feel uncomfortable. That's the whole point. Awareness of who you are and what values you hold dear will help you narrow in on possible conflicts for your stories.
If saving the environment is your passion, have your protagonist be an environmental activist. If you avoid the topic of abortion at all costs, maybe your heroine is just like you and trapped in a conversation she doesn't want to have. Give your characters the traits you most admire--and the traits you despise. The results will be interesting!
Photo by emifaulk

Your writing will stick in readers' minds when you make it real. How better to make it real, than by basing it on your perceptions of the world?

Join me on Friday when we'll talk about scheduling idea time.

Write Already! It's Wednesday!


  1. Hi Jill,
    I found your website/blog via Scott and Tina Sandy:) I love your blog! Very cool. Tina sent me the link just because we are both blog junkies, little did she know that I have spent the last year working on a manuscript. I have only self-published one book, but it was more of a documentary regarding a tragic accident with my brother (Praise the Lord, God allowed me to be able to write a good ending!) However, this work is a fiction and its been a challenge...sometimes almost too much of one! However, God's timing is perfect and when Tina sent this link to your helped me refocus and continue to writing! so THANKS!

  2. Thank you for stopping by Amber. While I'm very sorry to hear about your brother, I'm thrilled for you that you were able to write a happy ending. Writing can be very cathartic.

    Please tell Scott and Tina "hi" for me, and good luck with your writing!


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