Just like that, you’ve written a book and poured your blood, sweat, tears and sanity into publishing it. So what’s next? Your next book of course!

Whether or not you’re previous book is a series or a stand alone story, the following prompts can help you create some ideas to use as a plot or subplot. Enjoy!

Dreams can be a source of inspiration to the creative process. Even while asleep, your brain is whirling around and around and around. Sometimes the answer to our problems comes to us in our sleep. The human mind is remarkable like that so don’t dismiss your dreams as nonsensical images thrown together. For example, Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, wrote the book based on an idea that came to her in a dream. I, myself, have four story synopsis based on dreams too, one of which that has spiraled into a trilogy.

Stories are being told all around you. Take notice of advertisements seen on television, the notices for lost pets and yard sales, newspapers and TV news, TV and cable shows, etc. and free write the hell out of it. How would you tell the story? Try applying “what if?” to create plot twists. In chapter 6 of Elizabeth Sim’s “You’ve Got A Book In You,” she introduces two phrases “yes, and” and “what if?,” and how it can help fuel material to plot an entire book. Of course she calls this process stormwriting but same difference. For example, book one of her Rita Farmer mystery series, The Actress, had been inspired by a news piece about a defendant allegedly receiving acting lessons before his trial began.

Heroes = Good. Villains = Bad. Says who? Flip the script! By making the main character in your story a villain or antihero, you open up a slew of avenues to take your writing to. It’s easy to write a flawed yet likeable character than a flawed and only a bit redeemable one. Think of it as a challenge and grab your pen. For example, Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series, was one of the most hated character in the books second to Voldemort. Until, however his efforts of fighting against the dark lord were revealed in the final chapters of The Deathly Hallows. And as a Harry Potter fan, I would love to read more about his personal life story chronicling his dismal childhood, his greatest love, his rivalries, life at Hogwarts, how he became a death eater, etc.

From the time wake up and until we go to bed, we’re always running around being too busy thinking about getting the kids to school and or to work on time, dealing with an 8+ hour job, etc. Sometimes to exercise the left side of our brain we need some kind of interruption to our daily lives, whether on our part or by conditions outside of our control. If we’d just stop for a moment, words or lines and scenes or images to inspire a story line can float into our head. just remember to always carry a notebook and pen, so you can write it down. As for another Harry Potter reference, J.K. Rowling came up with the idea for the Potter books waiting for a delayed train. If you think about it, is Ms. Rowling hadn’t written any of her thoughts down there would’ve been no Harry Potter books, movies, video games. Wow!

Aren’t secrets fun? Well, when they’re not dangerous. The crime and mystery/thriller is the second most popular genre right after romance novels. There are two ways to move along a secret plot in a story and they are 1) revealing a secret and 2) burying a secret. You could focus on one or both, and spin the story however you like. Everyone has a secret they wish to stay buried and there will always be someone who wants to dig it up either because it’s their profession or they’re a very curious cat. For example, Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” where the main character is hired to discover what happened to Vanger’s grandniece. There are other well known crime/mystery and mystery/thriller as well, including Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Was None,” and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series.

There you have it. Five writing prompts to your next story. What are some writing prompts you want to share?

PS. My Smashwords interview is now published. Don’t forget to share and or suggest additional questions you’d like to see answered.



Write Your Way to Book 2, 3, 4…

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