How To Find Short #Story #Ideas In Your Own Life

Is your short story idea well running dry? Fear not! New short story ideas might be closer than you think! Your life is full of ideas for fiction—you’ve just got to know where to look. Start with our suggestions.

5 Ways To Find Ideas For Short Stories Based On Your Own Life

1. Order up a slice of life. Many writers come up empty when trying to think of story ideas because they’re focusing on traditional story arcs. The fact is, life rarely offers neat little narrative packages that are gift-wrapped with easy conflict resolutions and clearly rendered characters. Fortunately, every short story doesn’t have to have a neat, traditional ending. You can write a short exploration of a scene, idea, or character—as opposed to a whole story. Slice-of-life vignettes are trending right now with lit mag editors; find out more about how to write good slice-of-life stories.

2. Make a scene. Physical places are rife with inherent conflict and problems that are just waiting to appear. You might discover a good story idea in your own backyard, the local park, or the mall—maybe even at the neighborhood senior housing center or hospital. Trees fall. So does rain. So do people. All of this has consequences for your characters, your setting, and your town. Learn more about scene and craft.

3. What a character! Think of the colorful people you know. Readers (including literary magazine editors and agents) love larger-than-life characters. Uncle Joe, who claims he was abducted by aliens. Aunt Dee, who talks more to her parrot than to her neighbors. Great stories often start with great characters.

4. Be afraid. Be very afraid. What are you afraid of? What’s the worst thing that could happen to you right now? What would stop you from reaching your goals? Your answers will reveal great story ideas, full of realistic conflict and emotional authenticity. Don’t be afraid to exploit your own fears. Learn how to write with fearful bravery!

5. Listen up. With every conversation, people are telling you stories. If you’ve watched the latest reboot of Sherlock (courtesy of the BBC), then you’ve seen how the titular detective can look over a person and deduce intimate secrets of that person’s life based on the smallest physical cues (a dog hair on the cuff of black pants, cracked nails, etc.). As a writer, you can do the same. Study the people you talk to. And remember—what you can’t glean, you can always invent.

One Last Warning: The Paradox Of “But It Really Happened”

Often, when a new writer hears a critique group member complain, “This doesn’t feel like it could really happen,” the author might reply, “But it did!” Here’s the problem with that logic: Whether or not a story feels true is actually more important than if it is true. Even if Uncle Joe really was abducted by aliens or Aunt Dee’s parrot truly can hold sophisticated conversations about classic literature, your story will fail if readers don’t buy into the truth of it. Listen carefully to readers’ reactions. And remember: there’s always more where that idea came from—your real life is replete with inspiration for fiction.
 

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission 
service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994.  Their work is 
highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing 
leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!
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Anne R. Allen’s Blog: 25 Must-Read #Tips on Plotting from Top #Authors and #Editors

I’ve gone through old blog posts and found gems that slipped my mind.  This post from Anne R. Allen is certainly one of them.  Great advice and wonderful insight for every writer to consider.  Enjoy!

Photo: Deposit Photos

Melanie V. Logan

I love Anne R. Allen’s blog.  She provides a wealth of information helpful to writers and bloggers.  If you haven’t checked her out, stop what you’re doing and run right over. 🙂

This week’s tip comes from Anne R. Allen’s Blog: 25 Must-Read Tips on Plotting from Top Authors and Editors. These tips and quotes have been helpful for me while I write my first book.  What may have made sense in my head about moving from one scene to another or situation to another, it may not translate to the reader.

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To #Show Don’t Tell or Not to Show Don’t #Tell, That is the Question

An oldie, but a goody. Which side of the fence are you on?

Melanie V. Logan

In the course of honing my writing skills, I have come across a number of posts and articles on “show don’t tell” like this. Most support the idea, but there are some that don’t. For someone new to writing or trying to improve, this can send a confusing signal – like it did me. But in researching and trying some exercises, I have a better understanding on each and their purpose in a story.

I finally got a chance to dig into my second draft. Going back over a couple of chapters, I could clearly see that I was doing a lot of telling with little showing. What I wrote got

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The Future of #Writing: Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Humans in Deciding the Fate of Manuscript Submissions?

This quote from Georgina Cromarty’s post about writing and artificial intelligence practically blew my mind.

“Some writers will see AI manuscript evaluations as a blessing since it takes the subjective human out the loop.

…And some may see it as a threat.”

Yes, I’ve worked in the IT field for 20+ years.  Yes, I understand what the ones and zeros are all about, and the inner workings of software and hardware.  Yes, I know technology brings about modern convenience, and can spout an answer to the hardest equations with speed and ease.  But with all of that, do I trust it wholly?  No!  Here’s why.

Mankind believes computers are smart.  The reality is that technology is only as great as the humans that make it.  And of course we know that humans are bound to mistakes.  So, technology is too.  Nothing is perfect.

So when I think about artificial intelligence playing a role in evaluating manuscripts, a smile crosses my face because it means the process of submitting and getting a response will be shortened.  But then my smile fades, and my head cocks to one side like a questioning puppy.  What algorithm is used to decide what’s publish-worthy and what’s not?  How often is the artificial intelligence maintained and updated for optimal performance?

I get it from a productivity perspective. There’s a lot of reading and publishers want to watch their bottom line.  Technology can help, but in the end will it really?  When people read, they have the ability to experience feeling and emotion.  Can technology do that?  Of course not.  It can only do what it is told (and even then it’s not the real thing). So an award-winning manuscript may never see the light of day because it didn’t meet the criteria of a computer.   Not sure I like that.  What are your thoughts?

Check out the rest of  Georgina Cromarty’s post on other interesting takes on artificial intelligence and it’s place in various industries.

10 Ways To Develop A Unique #Writing Style

Just like snowflakes, no two people are alike.  And that includes writing style.  But how can a writer stand out?  lists 10 ways writers can develop a unique writing style.

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Creating and refining your own unique style of writing is important, particularly in the modern Internet age, where a high content turnover means readers are constantly in pursuit of something original and clever. However, it’s often difficult – especially when you’re just starting out – to fine-tune the way you write and embody the qualities that make your voice distinct and innovative.

So how exactly do you tease out those qualities? How do you then apply them to the actual process of writing? Here are ten hot tips to get you started today.

1. Use experiences as a springboard

Start with what you know. If you begin your writing process in a world that you’re familiar with, it’ll generally be much easier for you to slip on your characters’ shoes and immerse yourself into the setting of your story. In fact, J. K. Rowling herself based one of her best-known and most complex characters, Professor Snape, on her chemistry…

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Scary Stuff: Real-Life #Author Lawsuits You Should Know About

Perusing the various blogs I follow or use to stay in the know, I ran across the article below.  I remember the issue with the James Frey book, but the others not so much.  I guess I’ve been living in a bubble…or wishfully thinking.

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Writers get sued sometimes.   Other times, writers do the suing. And sometimes, even the reading public gets in on the (legal) action. If the thought of getting embroiled in a lawsuit makes a chill run down your spine, Writer’s Relief recommends that you read about these real-life literary lawsuits—and the lessons they impart to writers!

Literary Lawsuits And Court Cases Involving Creative Writers

A writer sues a literary agent: Harper Lee famously claimed that her literary agent convinced her to sign away the copyright of To Kill A Mockingbird after she suffered a stroke.

THE LESSON FOR WRITERS: Remember that you should never, ever sign away your copyright entirely. Most contracts only acquire a license to copyright for a limited amount of time.

A publisher is sued by readers: James Frey’s “memoir” A Million Little Pieces became notorious for its largely fictitious nature, and Random House paid tens of thousands of dollars in refunds.

THE LESSON FOR WRITERS: Even if elements of your book are based on real life or inspired by real events, know whether to call your book a novel or a memoir.

A writer is sued by another writer: A Swedish author pen-named John David California wrote a book imagining what J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caufield might be like in old age. And Salinger’s lawsuit kept the work from being published until Catcher in the Rye enters the public domain.

THE LESSON FOR WRITERS: If your book isn’t parody or commentary, and is instead a spin on an existing work, you might get in trouble for publishing it.

A writer is threatened by an organization: Author Tess Gerritsen decided that to make her novel about organ harvesting more believable, she would use the real name of the New England Organ Bank. For years, the threats of lawsuits plagued her.

THE LESSON FOR WRITERS: You might want to change the names of real organizations—but even that might not protect you from being sued.

A novelist is sued by a “lookalike”: Kathryn Stockett, writer of The Help, was sued by her brother’s maid, Ablene Cooper, for Stockett’s allegedly similar maid, Aibileen Clark. Ultimately the lawsuit was dismissed.

THE LESSON FOR WRITERS: Be aware of the dangers that come with writing a character based on a real-life person (intentionally or not).

A memoirist is sued by his “characters”: Author Augusten Burroughs’s memoir didn’t ring true for the people he was writing about. The author settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum, with stipulations about no longer calling the work a memoir and issuing an apology to the family in future editions.

THE LESSON FOR WRITERS: Even if you think your memoir is perfectly true, other people might not agree—and that means you could be on the hook for libel.

A writer is sued by a random reader: A man claimed Jay-Z’s book Decoded incorporated a bunch of text from an allegedly stolen laptop.

THE LESSON FOR WRITERS: Even if you’re careful, someone can still sue you if they want to.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets.  We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.

Describing Your Story: TaQuanda Taylor’s Insight on Grabbing the Reader

Hooking a potential reader can seem like a grueling task.  As TaQuanda pointed out, a writer does not want to say too much for fear that the consumer will have all they need and move on without making a purchase.  If there’s not enough, it can come across as confusing or uninteresting.  So what should one do?

TaQuanda’s template is a good start.  It provides a “fill in the blank” format that can be customized.  For further assistance with blurbs, check out this post.

 

The Official TaQuanda Taylor Site

Hey love-bugs,

How do you talk about your story without giving too much away and still giving enough information to make someone want to read it?

It’s tough.

You don’t want to say too much and you can’t say too little. If you don’t give people enough details to draw them in, they may not want to pick up your book. If you give them every detail from start to finish, they won’t pick up your book because what’s the point? You’ve told them everything. There’s no need to read the book now.

So you write a logline. If you do it right, it should sum up your story without giving up too much and keeping it short and sweet. But loglines are hard to write. You mean to tell me that I have to tell you about my story in just one sentence?
That’s impossible.

That’s what I’ve always…

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