So, I think I milked this cow pretty thoroughly when it comes to the topics of characters, plots, problems, and conclusions. So now I’d like to talk about something a bit different: Ideas and research. If you already have an idea for a story, that’s fantastic, but if you don’t, that’s alright, too– I’m here to help.
So, as said in a previous article, and several other advice articles not authored by yours truly, ideas can come to you from almost anywhere or anything– dreams, when you’re in the shower, out for a casual stroll, or even reading. If you draw a blank, just free write, and word vomit whatever comes into your brain onto a piece of paper, not caring if it’s coherent.
As stated before, I get a lot of ideas and influence from books and movies, mostly books, but Star Wars has also (subtly) impacted my writing. BUT one of my biggest ideas (that I’m planning on hopefully someday making into a trilogy) actually started with a dream. Not even a daydream, mind, a night-dream. I woke up the next morning with that idea lingering, and a single name echoing around in my cavernous mind (not elaborating; that would go too much into spoilers). I started writing my story on my tablet for a very laid-back homeschool writing class I was taking at the time; people actually really liked it, so I decided to develop it and work it further, the way a potter works and kneads clay into something magnificent. Around that time, another idea popped into my brain, an idea related to the first idea and my original dream (it’s killing me right now to avoid giving you guys all the goodies…), and I got even more excited. I felt like this could be HUGE. So the second story I started, going off of the first, was, in my opinion, even BETTER than the first– a rarity for second books in a trilogy. But I genuinely and truly loved the idea, still do. And I can’t wait ’til it’s published, ’til people can read it and say what they think (feedback is always a value tool.).
But, now I’m getting ahead of myself.
The bottom line is, a good idea can just pop out of nowhere and almost literally smack you upside the head, so you need to be ready for that moment, whenever it comes. That’s why I try to always have a notebook and a writing utensil in my nearby vicinity– because you never know.
As for research, depending on your story, you may or may not have to do that. If you’re writing dystopian fiction on something that requires survival techniques, like The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Maze Runner, chances are pretty good you’re going to have to do at least SOME looking into things like how people manage to survive on a daily basis. What about shelter? How do they get food? Do they compete with other people or even animals/bizarre or dangerous beings for resources? Are they in a post-apocalyptic world, or are they part of a bigger conspiracy? What similar conspiracies and theories could you research and incorporate into that, to make it seem believable to your reader?
If you’re writing a book on the high seas, do research on ship life and sailor-speak. If your one character has schizophrenia, Google through various web medical sites (just not WebMD.). Research, research, research. I cannot emphasize this enough.
While sometimes you have to do research, other times research-based things will come to you; as I previously mentioned, I got ideas for my Junk Collector series from my Natural Sciences class, ideas I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to study myself, otherwise. But do know what you’re looking for, when you have a new idea to work into your story or questions about something, it’s definitely handy. I myself have several ideas I’m actually planning on looking into and researching to make a future story more believable and to draw the reader in more. Even if you’re writing something like fantasy or sci-fi, you do want to keep at least a degree of realism. Would my character really do this if they were autistic? What if they lost their father in a war– how would they react in such and such a situation then? Medical research, place research, PTSD research and other kinds of research can really get you going a LONG way.