Ideas For Writing A Book – Author’s Inspiration

How To Find Book Ideas

There’s oodles of advice on the internet and elsewhere about planning a novel’s structure and analysing everything from plot to characters,  but where does the original idea for writing a book come from? Does it arrive in a flash of inspiration or the result of hard work and brainstorming?

By all accounts, it seems to be a combination of both – this is the real world folks, nothing is black or white! The good news is that the process doesn’t have to be one way or the other. The craft of writing adapts nicely to every author’s whim.

Personally, I think the first seed of the idea does indeed come in a flash, which is then finely tuned by asking those ‘what if’ questions around that first basic scrap of inspiration. A famous author once said:

‘Inspiration is for amateurs. Professionals get to work!’

It sounds a bit brutal, but that’s about the size of it. Once you think about a possible idea that just might grow into a great book, you need to work on it, organise your thoughts and approach it like a boss.

How To Get Ideas For Writing A Book – One Author’s Perspective

https://youtu.be/18JhP-sp5bg

Alice Ozeman

Video transcript:

Hello everyone. I’ve decided as some of you may know to start a little series on my Youtube channel called ‘How to write a book’, (remembering that there isn’t one way to write a book) and essentially everything I say you can actually ignore, because you can just do what you want!

I get a lot of questions about writing books because I’m an author. I’ve written two books. I got published and I was quite young, and people starting writing, just want a bit of advice and I thought I could just address like every little part of writing a book in just a series of videos.

A simple series of videos definitely not, so when I keep getting asked the same questions I can just link them to videos instead of having to explain the same thing over and over again. On Tumblr a question I get asked a lot is ‘how do I come up with ideas?’ and that’s like the very first point you will be at before starting a book, especially if you want to write a book but you just don’t have an idea.

I mean, sometimes you have the idea at first and you’ll be like ‘that would be a good idea for a book’ I’m going to go write bit but sometimes a lot the time you just feel like I want to write something but you don’t have any ideas. So I’m gonna talk a little bit about coming up with ideas.

Book Writing Coach Lisa TenerThis is a whiteboard. Yes, I have a whiteboard. You know, just seeing and talking on YouTube is fine but is anyone else, like, obsessed with whiteboards? I actually love whiteboards. Every moment in school when I got to write on the whiteboard just made my day.

I just made this word, I mean I’ve had a real thing about this, and I think there are three main things that you need to consider if you want to try and come up with an idea. The first one, which apparently is red, and I have three colors for the three different things.

I know this is ‘Wow’, this is YouTube to the max everyone. The first thing that you should consider is inspiration. Gonna write it down. Sorry about – my oh god! I just forgot how to spell. Okay, so satisfying, sound inspiration when you’re coming up with ideas, only if you can’t come up with ideas.

If you don’t have any ideas, you want to try and get inspired by something, because the thing is about ideas is that there’s no such thing as an original idea. Every single idea you have will be influenced by things that you have seen in your life.

Anything from things have happened to you, people you’ve met, things that you’ve done, TV shows you’ve seen – literally anything that you have experienced in your life that is going to influence the ideas that you have.

And that’s why originality doesn’t exist. Yeah, it can be quite hard to find inspiration because inspiration in its nature tends to be quite a spontaneous thing. It tends to be this moment of, like, I’m inspired, rather than you like you can’t just force it to happen.

But I think there are several ways to kind of go out of your way to try and get inspired and in my opinion that’s mostly kind of experiencing new things. Personally, if I’m lacking inspiration I like to do things like go to the cinema and see your film I haven’t seen.

Or go to the theater and see a play I haven’t seen. Maybe listen to a new album that people have been talking about and I haven’t listened to yet. Basically, for me, it’s just kind of consuming other people’s art and that usually inspires me to think of things.

Find ideas for your next bookLet’s add that to a bubble map shall we? Consuming art. That sounds like I want to eat a painting. That can be a metaphor for something. Yes, good and there’s lots of other things that can inspire you. Like as I said, things in your life life experiences.

You don’t have to wait around for something dramatic to happen to you, because dramatic things happening to you are quite rare, but you can think about if you want to write this sort story. You could think about, you know, things that have affected you in your life.

Things that have made you feel deep emotions and a good sound. Yeah and those can all kind of feed into your ideas and inspire you to want to write them down. Because writing is a form of emotional expression for many people, so that could be good.

So to summarize, yeah those are like, for me, those are the two main things but obviously inspiration can just come from anywhere. So you know, be open to pretty much anything. If something makes you feel something, think about why it makes you feel that way and think about whether it would be a good and fun thing to put in a story.

Then good – one thing down. You can go down, the red pin. Okay, so the second thing um leads on quite well from inspiration and yes this is going to be the blue pen everyone. That wasn’t as satisfying. Blue pen is disappointing so far.

The second thing that I think is good for coming up with ideas is thinking about purpose. Strong word – very good. Look, we’re getting some nice colors now. Very very nice indeed. So what I mean by purpose is just having a think about, you know, you want to write a book.

You know you love writing. You want to write but you don’t have the idea. Purpose is figuring out why you want to write a book and think like and from that what sort of book would you want to write. I think the ‘why’ is quite important personally, because there are so many different reasons why someone would want to write a book.

Which is why there are so many different genres of fiction. For example, the person who wrote, James Joyce who wrote Ulysses, probably had a very different reason for writing a book than E.L. James, who wrote 50 shades of grey.

Get list of ideas for a bookBut they both wrote a book. They just both had very different reasons. There’s two very odd examples I chose there. Then probably thinking about why they wanted to write the book, that the type of book that I wanted to write was probably a very big part of figuring out what actually happens in their books.

So you want to write. You need to find your purpose. So from some examples, some people write because they want to explore a theme which is one of my big reasons for writing. Like in solitaire, I explore isolation and loneliness and feeling like different from other people and then in radio silence I explored like school stress and kind of expectation.

You might also want to write a book to express a message and to kind of teach people about something not in life a preacher a but just in a edge sort of educational way. Like I immediately think of only ever yours by Louise O’Neill, which I’m sure Louise wrote.

I mean, maybe it’s a bit presumptuous. I don’t know why anyone writes what they do, but I’m sure Louise wrote that because she wanted to teach people about feminism and about women like having rights over their own bodies and things like that.

So yeah but you know those took two quite serious things. People might also want to write books because they want to give people fluffy warm feelings. Like you know, if you write a very cute romance novel.

Create book topic ideasThat’s not really exploring any deep themes but you’ve still got a purpose for doing that because you’re letting the reader feel lots of nice warm feelings. So yeah, have a sit down, think about, you know, you want to write book but think about the why.

Why do you want to write and then leaving on from that, what would that entail? What to genre would that mean? What characters would you need? What setting would you need to explore? That cool, t nice little flow chart. Now we’ve got bubbles. We’ve got a flow chart and Mr. McCauley from Rochester Grammar School would be proud.

One last thing – I’ve left the whole half the board to do this. I’m not, I’m gonna try and fill up the board third and final thing is brainstorming. This green pen. All right everyone, the green pen is disappointing and I can’t fit the full word brainstorming on the whiteboard.

Just a disappointing final round everyone. That is weak, weak. The final thing I want to talk about brainstorming. Coming up with a book idea , it’s not gonna happen immediately. I mean, you can get that spark of inspiration, you can get like a sudden idea for a character or a theme or a be even a plot line, but you can’t come up with a full book plan in just like in one night.

I mean if you can, good well done. Why are you watching this video? I mean, if you don’t brainstorm, even if it’s just happening in your head, I don’t really know how you would write a book unless you brainstormed.

idea for a novelAnd so if you don’t know what brainstorming means (I’m sure you do) it just means just coming up with loads and loads of different ideas but miniature ideas. Coming up with loads of these little miniature ideas. Images, words, phrases, quotes and just collecting them all.

That’s right. Words, images, phrases. Wow, I mean this is top quality education. My handwriting is really deteriorated. I’m blaming this pen. Words, images, phrases and quotations. So brainstorming is so much fun. Like you can pretty much do it any way you want.

You could do it like this. You could do a bubble map, loads of bubble maps. You could just get a notebook and write down loads of words and ideas in a notebook and I tell you what is fun. What I always do is I make an inspiration blog like a Tumblr.

I just I collect images on Tumblr. I also make playlists, that’s a good form of brainstorming. So just anything that kind of spurs your imagination. Let’s give you some examples. Here we’ve got playlists ,notebooks, Tumblr – just Tumblr or you could use like Pinterest.

I’d never use Pinterest. I don’t really know like what Pinterest does. I think it’s like move boards. Oh bubble maps, I’ll try and show you some examples or I’ll insert them here, some images of my brainstorming methods. But this needs to go in a bubble continuity everyone.

And oh one more thing about brainstorming – important! You need to give it time. Don’t feel frustrated if you start brainstorming and you don’t immediately have a book idea. Just keep brainstorming . Keep working on those ideas and eventually something will just click.

That was a weak click. Ideas don’t arrive fully formed and complicated in your head. Plots don’t arrive fully formed complete in your head. Neither do characters. Everything starts small. So hopefully I’ve given you some starting points.

At least for me, those are kind of the three main things I think help me come up with ideas but as is the motto. I’ve decided in this series, you don’t have to listen to a single thing I say because writing is art and art is subjective and you can pretty much do whatever you want.

Okay I hope this is helpful. I’ll be back soon with the next one, which i think is gonna be on hold on. I’m gonna check planning. Let me know if this was helpful. Let me know if the whiteboard was a success. I think it was and I’ll see you in the next video. We’ll talk about planning. It’s gonna be good, yeah. Bye.

How To Start Writing A Book For Beginners – Ideas For Writing A Book

the snowflake method to start writing a novel

Hello and welcome back to my channel. If you don’t know who I am, I’m Britt Poe. I am an author and a writing a business coach for creative writers and authors alike. Today I’m gonna be talking about how to outline your novel using my absolute favorite method, the snowflake method.

So before I get into the how-to, I wanted to share a little bit of background. In the writing world there are two sort of sides when it comes to planning a novel. There are plotters, the ones who plan everything and set them out before they start writing, and then there are Pantsers, those who sort of just take their idea and go with it with really no structured plan on where they’re going.

In my writing practice, I’ve literally been all over the board with my writing and my planning techniques. I’ve tried so hard just to find something that really clicked with my creative process and ended up really uninspired with a lot of different methods to outlining, which then left my manuscript suffering because I was just uninspired and an uninspired writer is probably not the best kind of writer.

So when I heard about the snowflake method, I decided to give it a go and I am just loving the amazingness of the snowflake method. It works so well with my finger in my creative process and it really helps me get an outline down and completed, so that I can actually start writing that first draft.

So what is the snowflake method?

https://youtu.be/jSo4mgZMfP4

The snowflake method is an approach to writing developed by a guy named Randy Inger Mason. I will link to his website below where he really goes into tons of detail about the snowflake method himself but in all this method is composed of ten steps.

The goal is to have an extensive outline filled with everything that you need for your plot and for your characters in order to write your novel. Something about the way that this method is structured just really jives with me and my process. So now I’m gonna tell you how you guys can do it yourself.

Step one of the ten steps of the snowflake method is to write a one sentence summary of your novel. This is the hardest part for me because something about having to fit all of the ideas in my head about the novel into one little sentence. It’s kind of tedious and excruciating for me, but yeah, I did it.

So you’re gonna challenge yourself to write one sentence to explain the plot of your book. The idea is to make this about 15 to 20 words. To avoid any running on, or rambling, and you really want to just get straight to the point. So I’m gonna share a couple tips with you guys to make this a little easier.

  • Tip number one is don’t use your characters names. It’s much better to say something like ‘a young wizard’ versus saying ‘Harry Potter’.
  • Tip number two is that you’re going to want to tie in the big picture, idea or goal of your novel with the personal goal of your protagonist or main character.

The thing to think about is which of my characters has the most to lose and why is it that they want to win? The third tip is something that really really helped me when I was doing my one sentence summary and that is to go and read the one-liners on the New York Times bestseller list.

It’ll give you a feel on how other people do this and how you can also use that strategy and use that structure to write your own one sentence summary.

how to write a fiction novel for beginnersStep number two is to expand that sentence into a full paragraph. This is where you will start planting the seeds for your plot. This paragraph will summarize the entire book, including the ending. There is a general structure that you’re going to want to follow for this paragraph.

  • Sentence 1 needs to be the backdrop to your story, where is it taking place and who is your character.
  • Sentence 2 is going to be a summary of the first quarter of your book, which leads up to the first disaster.
  • Sentence 3 will be a summary of the second quarter of your book leading up to the second disaster.
  • Sentence 4 will be a summary of the third quarter of your book leading up to the third disaster and …
  • Sentence 5 will be a summary of the fourth quarter of your book leading up to the conclusion.

Step number three is to write a one page summary of each character in your book. Here you’re going to want to know their name. You’re going to want to have a one sentence summary of the character’s storyline, know their motivation and their goals.

You’re going to want to know what conflicts that they’re facing and if the character has an epiphany, or basically what they will learn, or how they will change throughout your book. And then you’re going to want to write a one paragraph summary of the character’s storyline.

Step number four is to expand each sentence in your one paragraph summary to one page. This step is where they start to take a little bit longer than the previous steps, because here you will be expanding each of your plot points in the previous step.

how to start writing a book for beginnersTo do this you’re going to take each sentence in your paragraph and expand that into its own paragraph. I have an example on how to do this on the blog post version of this video if you need a more visual instruction on how to do this. I will link the blog post in the description of this so you can go check that out when you are done watching.

Step number five is to write the synopsis from the POV of your characters. You’re gonna be focusing more on only the main characters of your novel here, but this is a really important step for me because it allows me to get into the head of my characters and find their voice. You’ll also be able to discover really useful things like what this character is doing, when it’s not actually present in a chapter of your novel.

Step number six is to expand each paragraph from your one page summary to a page. This is where you’ll start to get a grip on the high level logic of your main plot points. So just like we expanded each sentence into its own paragraph, now you’re going to expand each paragraph into its own page. Feel free to add as many details as you want here just make sure that it doesn’t go over a page, so that this this part of the outline doesn’t get too out of hand.

Step number seven is to create character charts of each of your characters. If you’re interested on getting your hands on the same character chart that I use in my writing, I have a free template available on my website. I will link that below as well and you are free to download it and use it for your own writing. The basic things that you want to focus on your charts are:

  • birth date
  • physical appearance
  • family history
  • personal traits
  • quirks
  • their goals
  • motivations

Step number eight is to make a spreadsheet outline of each scene based on your four page summary that you did above. So this step is very time-consuming I’m going to admit, but it is very, very important and so helpful for me at least, when I start the actual writing process.

So what you’re going to want to do is take each paragraph from the summary and brainstorm all of the scenes that are necessary to tell that part of the story. Then you’re going to want to get your favorite spreadsheet system out and then get one line for each sentence detailing the chapter number.

tips for writing a book for beginnersThe POV, the setting, the date or timeline, as well as which characters are involved and a little description of what happens in that chapter. On my website attached to the blog version of this post I am offering up a free template of my snowflake outline Trello board, which is where I personally create all of my outlines and go through the snowflake outlining process.

It’s my centralized hub for all of my book information and so if you download the Trello board you’ll also get a copy of my same spreadsheet completely for free. It’s attached on the troll board itself. Also something to remember here is that even though everything has already been planned out, by the time that you write, you can diverge from your outline if your characters or your stories start pulling you in a different direction as you write.

If you’re like me, that tends to happen quite frequently, but just know that it’s super easy to go back to the spreadsheet and edit what you need to edit or add a line wherever you need to add it.

Step number nine is to write a narrative summary of each scene. I’m gonna admit that I do not write a full narrative summary for every single scene. Instead, what I like to do is on my scene card inside of Trello, I just like to go in there, and if I have snippets of dialogue, or setting ideas, or just all of the things floating inside of my head about that scene, then I’ll just type it up really quick in the Trello card.

When I do write that scene, I can just open it up and remember ‘oh yeah, this is where, you know, I wanted them to be here, or this is where I wanted them to have this conversation.’ Add things like that.

The final step, step number ten is just to write your book. By this point you should know what’s happening in each scene and where each character is development wise. It’s a great time to get that first draft down on paper.

This is where I print out all of my character descriptions and my spreadsheets and I slop them into my handy-dandy binder for easy reference. Now you might have noticed that this outline process is kind of labor-intensive and it can take a long time if you allow it to.

I was able to get steps one through nine of the snowflake method completed for my WIP and ten hours spread over the course of a couple weeks, but once you get all this detail right now and available to you it just becomes so much easier to crank out that first draft.

So if you would like a copy of my snowflake outlining Trello board it’s hop on over to the blog version of this video. I will link it in the description below. You’ll also be able to get my free spreadsheet complete there as well as my character charts.

Let me know if this method sounds like something that you’re interested in trying or if you have tried it before and what your thoughts about it are. If you like this video please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel, because every single week I’m releasing more videos just like this about writing and the business side of being an author. I look forward to you guys next time – bye.

How to start writing a book for beginners – Britt Poe, Snowflake Method PDF