Have you wanted to be an author, but you weren’t sure where to start? Author Cindy Callaghan can help!
There are three Building Blocks you need to think about for your book. Get a piece of scrap paper and divide it with lines or by folding, into three sections.
On the top of one section write SETTING, on the next write CHARACTERS, and on the next write PLOT. We call this trio, Building Blocks.
SETTING is where your story takes place. It is the actual location, but also the time, as in past, present or future, as well as the time of year (summer, winter, spring or fall.)
On the SETTING section write a detailed description of where you want your story to take place. Use lots of adjectives to explain what this place looks, smells and feels like. Then draw your setting. If your setting is a castle, draw the inside and figure out what rooms you have and where they are. If your setting is a town, give it a name and draw a map.
CHARACTERS are the people who are in your story.
On the CHARACTER section, make a list of the main characters in your story. Start with three. Describe what each one looks like. (Note: They don’t have to be people, they can be animals, aliens, ghosts, whatever.) Then, describe a bit about each character’s past. Do they have a family? Where do they come from? Lastly, write down what they want during your story.
- Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games wants to stay alive.
- Kelly Quinn in Just Add Magic wants to be a famous chef.
- Jordan Jacoby in Lost in London wants an adventure.
PLOT is what happens in your story.
In the PLOT section, try to summarize what the problem is in your story. For example:
- A secret recipe book causes big problems for the girls who find it. (Just Add Magic)
- An adventure to London spins out of control when troubling videos get into the wrong hands. (Lost In London)
Next write down a very brief beginning, middle and end.
For example, in the book Holes:
- Beginning: Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake for stealing. He and the other inmates dig holes there.
- Middle: They find Kissing Kate’s lipstick and investigate why the warden is having the inmates dig holes.
- End: They learn about Stanley’s curse and the secrets at the camp.
Plot is probably the hardest of the three sections to figure out before you’ve started writing your story. Just fill in the sections you can, you can always come back and fill in more later.
This trio can be edited, thrown out, revised or restarted at any time. You might create Building Blocks for a few different ideas before starting to write a story.
Of course, you don’t have to do these Building Blocks before you start writing. You could just sit down for a half hour and start and see where the story naturally takes you. Then, if you get stuck, you can do the Building Blocks.
Creative writing is not only fun, it’s also a skill and you get better at it the more you do it!
What’s an Idea Notebook?
An idea notebook can be any notebook, big or small, that you keep somewhere for all of your ideas. If you don’t have your notebook with you and an idea comes to mind, write it on something else (napkin, Post-it, scrap paper) and tape it into your book later.
What kind of ideas? Any kind.
- Ideas for the setting of a story: England, Mars, the center of the earth.
- Ideas for characters: A guy just home from a war, a kid who’s super smart.
- Ideas for adventures: A scavenger hunt, a story about a secret club, an adventure to undo a curse.