3 Things You Need to Know Before Drafting a New Story

by Emily Wenstrom | 99 comments

When I wrote my last manuscript, I let inspiration carry me away. I had the introductory scene all laid out in my head, and my POV character’s voice was whispering to me in my head. I dove in head first, hard-core pantsing my way through the plot as I went.

At first it was great. But about two-thirds of the way through, I’d dug myself into a plot hole I couldn’t get out from, my worldbuilding was haphazard and unclear, my character’s motivations were fuzzy, and I had no idea where to go next.

what to know before starting a new story

Photo by martinak15

I finally figured out how to climb out from under the mess, but it made my drafting process a lot longer than necessary.

This time around, I didn’t start drafting until I knew where I was going. And to know where you’re going, you need the details filled out on three foundational elements of your story: characters, worldbuilding, and plot.

Drafting Characters

I always start my stories with its central character. Something about them just catches my imagination—but since characters should fuel everything else in your story, it’s a very practical place to start, too.

Your character is bound to become more concrete as you write, but before you start, you should at least know the basics of all your key major and minor characters—likes and dislikes, quirks, personal history, voice, and, most importantly, what motivates them.

Drafting a New World

Your story’s world is the backdrop and foundation to everything that happens in your story—so you better have your details straight.

Planning ahead is most important for fantasy and sci-fi (does this planet have two moons or three?), but even if you’re working in a familiar modern-day setting, attention to detail on the front end can be the difference between a dynamic setting and a flop.

Drafting Plot

When I start a new story, I usually have a good sense of where I want to go—but the way there can be incredibly messy, and sometimes it doesn’t go at all where I expected. To map out my new story, I started with the primary plot arc, then looked to individual character threads, and then to other supporting subplots. Then, I started grouping developments for those into chapters.

By the time I have plugged through the exercises of developing these three foundational story elements, I was chomping at the bit to get drafting. I felt more inspired to write, and also more confident.

Will my story turn out exactly like I planned? Probably not—we all have ideas as we draft, no matter how much we prepare. But with a solid foundation to build from, I feel more comfortable experimenting with those new ideas when they come.

And even better, all this preparation has made my drafting not just more efficient, but also much stronger.

How do you prepare for a new story?


Pick one of these three elements for your work in progress or next story—spend 15 minutes fleshing out the its key details. What do you know? What’s missing? Share your brainstorm in the comments!

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By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March 2016.


  1. Miriam N

    Woot First to post! Anyways, I really like this post Emily.

  2. Teo Jansen

    It was supposed to be a dreamy cousins’ weekend… and turns to be a nightmare.

    Rebeca (19) was found death by her sister Esmeralda (25) the Saturday morning. Matt (29), Gianna (21) and the twins Carla and Victor (18) tried to call their parents, but they are in the middle of a mountain with no comunication possible.

    The night falls and the body of Rebeca disapears from the bed.

    They search everywhere, but cannot find her. Esmeralda confess: “I made a ritual funeral and buried her body. She must come back from death at midnight”.

    Esmeralda was so desesperated to save her sister that she made an ancient ritual from a lost family book that she found in their house.

    Rebeca is back, but she is not the same. A demon took her body and is taking every cousin, one by one, to death.

    Could any of them survive?

    • Maure

      Sounds neat! I’m curious about what their family’s been up to in the past that they just have a ritual like that lying around…

    • Teo Jansen

      Thank you! I’m still bulding the story around Rebeca’s coming back from death to kill their cousins. My idea is precise what you higlight “How the family had that book?” “Why Rebeca was sick and then suddenly death?” actually the family have a very dark background, that this generation could be victim of it.

      I’m still working on it! thanks for the feedback!

    • Avril

      Oooh good story. They are in the middle of a mountain? Where?

    • Teo Jansen

      Yes, they are in the middle of a mountain, in a house owned by Rebeca’s parents. I am still considering if it is something bigger as a ranch.

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m gladd you liked the story

    • Dawn Akemi

      Interesting! Reminded me (a bit) of Stephen King’s “Pet Cemetery”– mostly cuz of how people die, get buried, and come back different. Keep going… 🙂

    • Teo Jansen

      I’m gladd you like it! Thanks for the feedback, which even “a bit” of Stephen King it is a great honour 😉 cheers!

  3. Michael Follen

    Michael is fourteen years old, super curious and wide-eyed. He has days of energy but is respectful and knows when to slow down. He is kind of like a small hippy version of forest gump. He inspects the world as if he was an alien who landed on earth and needed to know everything about everything. He loves his mother but doesn’t latch on. They are best friends in a sense. He doesn’t plot anything out. He lives in the moment usually jumping without a landing sited. He is full of love and would push for peace but he is too young to grasp it. intuition seems to steer him. He inadvertently focuses on things that are the foundation of life. like an artists eye but for nature.

    • Dawn Akemi

      I love characters whose perspectives are shaped by emotional, physical, or intellectual challenges (in your case, Forest Gump-like). Through their eyes, the writer can make observations about our world that are inherently unique and subversive. We could all learn from someone who knows how to live in the moment. Would love to know your plot and setting.

    • Michael Follen

      Thank you for the insight. I have the plot kind of mapped out in my head and I am working out the details of the setting.

    • George McNeese

      There is an innocence to him that is lost at his age. The way he views the world is almost child-like. I would like to learn more about the relationship between Michael and his mother. I like the fact he doesn’t feel the need to latch onto her, but I wonder how the mother feels. A great character sketch. Deep and intuitive.

    • Michael Follen

      Thank you for the response. I just added his mothers character. Let me know what you think. I had both of these already written. It’s a story I have been working on for quite sometime. Thanks.

    • Teo Jansen

      “super curious” in a young character means a lot and fun of adventures to come! I imagine his supportive mother to be as well a wise person, somebody who advices him in hard situations when he finds something! LoL!

      It is sounds very interesting! keep it doing it!

    • Avril

      Readers could love this character. I’m interested to hear what conflict/tension you would introduce.

    • Lisa

      I love this character! He seems so alive and real somehow already from your description. I can see why his mother is enchanted, and he sounds like he will definitely have adventures! “Super curious and wide-eyed” already gives a lovely picture of him. And there is something interesting about the relationship between him and his mother…I wonder what will happen to them?

  4. George McNeese

    I have yet to start writing this story. I am currently drafting a new character. A friend on Twitter has given me her blessing to use her first name.

    Her name is Mayumi. She’s a 38-year-old divorcee, living in Seattle. She’s short and petite. She was born in Kyoto to working-class parents. She has no siblings. They moved to the states when she was thirteen. Her dad is a history professor while her mom stays at home.

    Mayumi is a short, petite woman. She exercises regularly, three times a week. She has a hard time gaining weight.

    • Dawn Akemi

      Ah, the cross-cultural possibilities for Mayumi’s adventures. I read somewhere that Seattle has a sister city in Japan, Kobe.

    • George McNeese

      I didn’t know that. I’ll have to take that fact into consideration. Thanks for the fun fact.

    • Michael Follen

      I think it’s a good start. I kinda like that you didn’t describe her attributes in-depth. Her backstory alone kind of gives sheds light on the type of person she is. I have been learning that it is better to describe people through there actions and where they have been.

    • Teo Jansen

      I’m a big fan of characters’ name. I use to start my stories with their names and then build something interesting around it.

      “Mayumi” it is a very interesting name! Can’t wait to read what you build around her.

      By the way, I checked that Mayumi means “truth, reason, beauty”. Very cool!

    • Avril

      So far a complex character. Would I be right if I surmise she has trouble letting people care about her? Doesn’t let people love her? Many possibilities with such a character. I really like the name “Mayumi”. Strong and beautiful.

    • Guest

      What a great start, I like her already. What kinds of things or situations bring out Mayumi’s bratty/bitchier qualities?

  5. Maure

    When I start a story I usually begin by writing the back-cover blurb, basically – stating the main character and conflict, and suggesting some of what might happen next.

    Then, depending on the book, I might make a list of chapters or just a list of events I think are going to happen in the book, fleshing out as I go along. I usually leave big gaps, though – I’m a pantser at heart, and overplotting a book can really kill it for me. If it’s set in a fantasy world sometimes I’ll write a paragraph or two about each setting.

    Honestly, I feel shy sharing that kind of brainstorming, so I might work some on it but I might skip sharing this time…

    • George McNeese

      That is understandable. When I write first drafts, I’m a pantser. I try to get a feel of the direction of my story. After that, I plot and sketch. Even then, the story may skewer in a direction I hadn’t anticipated. But that’s what makes writing fun.

  6. Dawn Akemi

    This is a plot I was working on until my mother died a year and a half ago and meaningful writing stopped. This plot is still being developed and is messy in my

    Amy, the protagonist, is an early blossoming, very attractive, tween, growing up with her dysfunctional family in Hawaii. She is an unpopular loner, bullied by her classmates. Initially, her favorite relative, where she feels the most support, is her Uncle.

    Her uncle is a powerful man from Saipan, a U.S. Territory in Micronesia, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, who is working politically in Hawaii to develop some land. He is married to Amy’s Auntie. Their marriage has been steadily devolving after a love affair by the Auntie. As a reaction to the affair and professional frustrations, the Uncle begins a series of events of increasing intensity, where he molests young Amy.

    After the first episode with her Uncle, Amy, who now has no one to turn to, is led by Menehunes (Hawaiian little people) into a magical parallel world, where she discovers she is a princess with a sick twin sister. In the real world, she was conceived with a vanishing twin. This story has haunted her and she feels responsible for the loss of her twin sister. Her father told her the twin was absorbed. In her young imagination, she thinks that she ate her twin. Thus, she is delighted to find her twin sister alive, albeit sick.

    As the molestations increase in intensity, the Uncle finds success in his land development schemes, though his marriage continues to devolve. Amy, who becomes increasingly distressed and confused by her Uncle, discovers a dark side to her magical world where she is being tricked by the Lord of Menehunes into fulfilling a prophesy. She must kill her sick twin and assert her rightful place as the One Princess.

    The ending has a few possibilities. Am leaning towards a very dark, non-Hollywood, ending where the ultimate rape of Amy by her Uncle is equated with her taking power in the magical world by ridding herself of her twin sister and the Uncle’s political success and development, or rape, of the land. I think of this story as an exploration of the development of evil.

    • Teo Jansen

      Incredible twists! I like everyone of them, and adding that this is not going to have a happy ending is even more intriguing. I want to read more!

      I see what you mean about the messy ideas, however I think you know what you want, you have clear your theam, so I think you need to write more the development and you will have all figure it out! Keep working on it!

    • Dawn Akemi

      I do have more work to do before I can start the story. Thank you for your encouragement!

    • Avril

      Dawn this does sound original. Yes, dark, though that can be enlightening. It sounds lije Uncle gets really evil. What about Amy? Does she turn evil, or does she fall apart? Reading between your lines, it suggests to me Amy’s personality disintegrates. Have you olanned her ultimate outcome?

    • Avril

      Sorry for sloppy typing. I’m on my phone…

    • Dawn Akemi

      I do know her outcome. Disintegrating personality is a great way to call at it. Trauma can bring the best or worst out of us.

    • Sandra D

      Well sounds very dark and definitely sounds like it will take a lot of bravery to go down this. I like dark stories though!
      This sounds like a very interesting story potential.

    • Dawn Akemi

      I am scared to give a dark ending. But I also love stories that have endings (and happy endings). Hopefully, I’ll give a satisfying story no matter what the ending.

    • Sandra D

      I think whatever feels ‘right’ to you, is the best way to go.

    • Lisa

      This sounds really interesting – definitely dark and intriguing, Will there be some hope for Amy? I wonder what the reader will be led to hope will happen to Amy as the story goes on, and if it will be fulfilled….I’m not sure I’m right in asking that question. I know stories don’t all have happy endings but I have noticed lately in novels that what makes me keep reading is to see if what I hope will happen is going to happen – or to see if the character I care about will get saved or get what she wants and then I can relax! I don’t know if this feedback is helpful or relevant – let me know!

    • Dawn Akemi

      That’s a great bit of insight Lisa. Whether I go for the dark or light ending, the story much be threaded with hope. Thank you.

  7. Grey Gregory

    When I start a story, I usually know where it starts, where it ends, and one or two important parts in the middle. I make basic outlines which frequently change as I actually write. Usually, each chapter encompasses one “scene,” like in a movie, and I write each scene as it becomes clear in my mind, not always chronologically. One strategy that I’ve found helps is to find the “point of inspiration” in each chapter – what conflict do the characters undergo? what relationships are formed, strengthened, or broken? what about the events moves me emotionally? I get a mental picture of the part of the chapter that I want to write the most and work towards it, using it as my anchor.

    Gaining inspiration from my work is a big part of keeping the ideas flowing; if I can’t find something to inspire me about a chapter, I consider altering that part of the plot or dropping the chapter entirely, if I can. I don’t know if this is the “right” way to go about it, but this strategy has helped me stick with my story for almost a year without being able to get much external motivation.

    • Avril

      I was starting to think to try writing chapters out of sequence, as I have some sections clear in my head. Then work on filling in the more vague transitional stages. How does this work for you?

    • Grey Gregory

      That seems to work well for me. Usually I want to write the “big” moments first and then figure out what goes in between later. There’s a book about writing I read where the author said that if writing the beginning is boring you to death, move on to a different part of the story and write the beginning later. If you already know how one chapter is going to go, sometimes writing it first will show you what needs to happen in the other parts.

    • Avril

      Thanks. That is the push I needed. I will give this a try. Does this help with writer’s block? I was wondering if I’d make more progress this way, as I could leave a section I’m stuck on, and just work on a different part of the story. Do you work with several sections in progress, and bounce between them? I just realized, maybe I should write that way, because I read that way. Usually I have 2-3 books going at once.

    • EJ Heijnis

      I think that changing the plot when it fails to excite you is a very sensible thing to do and a helpful tool in eliminating boring scenes. After all, you came up with it, so if it doesn’t excite you then no one else is likely to want to read it!

  8. Sol

    Unfortunately I’ve never been good at any of this organized, planning stuff. I’m a Pantser to a fault. And it’s only in the past few months that I’ve even been that! Up until now I’ve been a “pre-writer” – reading a lot, trying to soak up as grammar and style as I can, writing in my head, jotting down little ideas or phrases here and there – now that I’m finally putting ass to seat and fingers to keyboard, I’m realizing it’s probably the organization and planning stuff that I need to work on most. Especially actually writing my drafting out as opposed to just the mental drafting I do throughout the day (even though Henry Miller says that’s when we do our best “writing”). I appreciate the column and I look forward to reading and learning from other people’s drafting exercises!

    In just a short time this site is really proving to be an invaluable resource!

    • Avril

      Sol I totally relate. I have file folders of notes I’ve written for decades. Plots, characters, themes. I feel an urgency to get this sruff written. I have only been on this site about three weeks. I’ve learned a lot already, and I fibd this to be a positive, supportive group, while giving me the feedback I need.

    • Sandra D

      Me too, me too.

    • EJ Heijnis

      This is one of nine writing blogs I read daily, and my favorite feature is the exercise at the end of each post. It’s a daily opportunity to grow your skill in a new area, and it helps you get in the habit of writing consistently. Being able to post your practice and get feedback makes it even more valuable.

    • Glynis

      I’m a fellow “pantser”. I’ve never had the discipline to plan everything out, even though I know better.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      My nature is pantsing too, but as I mention in the post, it’s simply causing me too many problems as I draft. How do you avoid writing yourself into corners or introducing inconsistencies as you go (or cope with them as they come up)? Maybe you can teach me some tricks.

  9. Avril

    Ok, I picked Character, as my one element I would work on. I made up a character, and will let him act out for you, so you can see what he’s like. I took more than 15 minutes. I was having too much fun. =)

    My name is Buster “Busted” Bybee. I lurk here gathering information on the state of the written word. Based on my experience in Quality Story Writing, I will comment on things you need to know. Let’s start with character. Believe me, using adjectives and adverbs is fine.

    I’ve been writing for 40 years. Although I’ve never been published, I’m practically a professional writer. In my experience, a writer needs to get the story going. Introduce Joe Blow or Susie Twinkle as follows:

    “Joe Blow was stout, an angry man, with black hair and rumpled clothes. He lived in an ugly house and had a lousy job, and his car broke down every day.” Or, “Susie Twinkle was the neighborhood busybody. She had long bottle-blond hair, and a very loud voice. At 35, she thought she was a hottie, and had been chasing Joe for months. But Joe detested her.” Clearly, I have established a foundation for setting and plot. Story: All-but-written.

    The most important lesson is the theory of plot development. I will write this down to a “common man’s” verbiage. The big news about me is that I have an IQ in the proximal statistical ballpark of a genius. I am humble about my gifts, and write accessibly to readers.

    So for plot, there is one thing you need to know. It’s all been done before, and it’s all on television. Today’s blog addressed a problem, wherein the author rushed into a story, then the plot fizzled out. This problem could have been solved swiftly by reviewing the most infamous television plots of our time. I direct your attention to the long-running series “Dallas”, and the “it was all a dream” solution to their plot knot. Plot devices that work are used over and over, like dad’s tools or grandma’s cast iron griddle. The “Dream” strategy can work for you too.

    As a near professional, I advise you, when stuck, to review some of your favorite shows. For another classic plot device that gets you back on track, do not underestimate the Zombie Apocalypse. I have come close to being published many times, and my close brushes with success have been a direct result of my use of popular TV.

    While we’re on plot, there is one more aspect in which I am just steps away from being an expert, and this is story length. Again, look to TV. Fast-forward through the commercials. A half-hour program is only 20 minutes long. Keep this in mind when you write. Keep it short. Think “novelina” not novel or novella. Think “long anecdote” not “short story”. Keep it snappy.

    Based on my authoritative (in the 98th percentile) command of my craft, I say you are wasting your time if you put more than a few minutes into developing setting. Review current shows that offer a relatively infinite number of scenarios. Why orchestrate a new “world”? Remember the truthyism, “Reality is stranger than fiction.”.

    You have leeway here. With adjustments, you can reproduce most of a “setting template” as I call it, and be legally safe from prosecution for plagiarism.

    As a person of close to amazing intelligence, I may have left you behind. Let me pull this together. Remember Joe and Susie? She is sure they are getting together, and he is sure that will never happen. One night, she corners him outside the bar. He is repulsed. Possibly. Before Susie can complete her plan, giant brain-sucking alien seed pods attack them and turn them into automatons in the service of invading evil things that look like Bigfoot. Just when it gets really gruesome, *poof* Joe wakes up at home on his couch. It was all a dream!

    Years ago, I dedicated myself to being a writer of a somewhat higher caliber, and now it’s time to give back. You, my compatriot practicing writers, are the beneficiaries.

    Warm Regards from Waaaaay Off the Grid,

    Buster “Busted” Bybee
    Visionary Author
    Advanced Prognosticator
    Semantic Ninja

    • Sandra D

      He has a sense of humor I see.

    • Teo Jansen

      I laughed a lot with “Semantic Ninja”. It would be fun to read his adventures as a writer’s advice, to extravagant people, like an old queen from a foreign country, or a widower who wants to share his memories… at 23 years old! LoL! I’m just letting my imagination to roll! Great character!

    • Avril

      I never thought of that. He could travel the world, and meet the most amazing people. That could be funny! Good idea Teo.

    • Michael Follen

      I picture someone who is extremely confident in writing even though he knows deep down he’s doing something wrong. He hides that fact by talking fast so he’s hard to follow and can’t be critiqued. a tough shell soft insides. You definitely drew me a character.

    • Avril

      Yes he is thin-skinned. Thank you for letting me know that comes through.

    • EJ Heijnis

      This is hilarious. I agree with Teo that this could be a regular column, responding to reader mail or maybe critiquing classic novels from his unique perspective. “Near professional.” Just awesome.

    • Avril

      Wow thanks EJ. I had so much fun with this character, he will have to guest post for me again. 😉

    • Adelaide Shaw

      Now i know what I’ve been doing wrong. Thanks, Avril, for all the funny tips. I could have saved myself much time and work by just copying television shows, instead of working on my craft.

    • Avril

      “Busted” suggests you take inspiration from Sharknado…

    • Dawn Akemi

      A fun read! Made me think about how the more someone says how smart they are, the less they tend to be. 😀

    • Guest

      Thanks Dawn!

  10. ellenmulholland

    Totally agree with planning ahead.
    Some people thinks it takes the fun out of creating. Planning can be fun.
    Just think of a long voyage and how disastrous it might be if you didn’t plan ahead and bring a jacket for the cold, shorts for the sun, and an umbrella in case it rains.
    I’m a planner.
    I think my writing improved ten-fold once I actually planned, plotted, outlined and wrote character sketches. Writing includes editing and revising, so I don’t think it’s a terrible thing to simply begin writing with an idea or character and see where it goes. However, at one point, it might save you a tremendous amount of time if you stop, read what you’ve written, and create a plot arc or some character outlines. Go back, continue writing. Now you’ll have a framework to hold it all together.
    My two cents.

    • EJ Heijnis

      I can’t write if I don’t plan. Knowing what I’m supposed to write next allows me to concentrate on how I’m going to write it. For me, plotting and drafting are two separate activities, although this doesn’t mean I don’t make changes to the outline as I write and discover that something doesn’t work or that a different twist would be way more awesome.

    • ellenmulholland

      I agree, EJ. People say write. Don’t edit or revise, just get it out. I do that for a minute, but then I awake in the middle of the night and realize something needs to change in the previous chapter. The next day, something else. I’m always revising my story. You just don’t know what will arise down the way that needs a better introduction earlier on. However, I need to start with some kind of outline. It’s kind of like a path in the woods. The path keeps you from walking through poison oak, but that doesn’t mean you can’t now and again step into a clearing.

    • Glynis

      Lots of good thoughts here. I’m not a planner, but I want to be 🙂

    • ellenmulholland

      Glynis, have you tried Scrivener? I held out, and I wish that I hadn’t. It has made a world of difference in my work. Just a thought.

    • Glynis

      I haven’t, but it might be worth checking out. Thanks.

  11. Peggy Carouthers

    Great tips, Emily. I’ve often tried to write novels or stories without knowing where I was going with it and ended up in exactly the mess you described. I think deep down we all know these things, but it’s easy to get caught up in the creative process and forget that you need solid details. Thanks for the great remind.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Thanks for reading, Peggy!

  12. EJ Heijnis

    I’ve been concentrating on the ten or so major characters for the trilogy I’m planning right now, so for this exercise I chose to work on the world instead.

    My current WIP involves three different civilizations, each at a different level of technological development. For this exercise, I will work on the one having its industrial revolution. There are a handful of different states that interact through trade, diplomacy and warfare, and although they are separate political entities, they share common origins and therefore many characteristics as well. They occupy a mountainous region halfway up the northern hemisphere, so the default weather is cold, except in the southern lowlands where each nation grows most of its food. My goal is to create a setting that reflects the world’s history and engages the reader on many different levels. For this, I need a social structure that inspires conflict. More advanced technology usually means quality of life increases for the upper strata of society, while those on the lower rungs of the ladder end up with the negative side effects. Steam-powered manufacturing means manual labor is replaced, creating unemployment. At the same time, factory owners can force workers to endure horrible conditions because work is scarce. The pollution created by these factories will affect most the people living in their immediate vicinity, meaning workers and their families. Unions are definitely on the horizon. The different strata of society will rarely interact, and misconceptions abound as a result. The rich will have access to some fairly outlandish gadgets. I’m thinking monstrous, steam-powered carriages, wind-up monkeys, mechanical theaters featuring clockwork characters (derided by the well-established theater community, whose actors are the primary source of many people’s entertainment) and other mechanical marvels that would have been impossible twenty years earlier.
    These states are ruled by an aristocracy, with one person providing leadership to a council elected by the nobility. In one state, a revolution has occurred by the start of the book, instigated by a man whose real intentions are to establish himself as sole ruler. The moral implications for his right-hand man as he slowly begins to realize what he’s involved in make up a major subplot.
    The military is a great source of pride for these people. The discovery of an extremely light gas enabled development of large, powerful airships, and each nation has its own air fleet in addition to traditional land and naval forces. They frequently wage war against each other but they have also established colonies overseas, where they encountered another civilization still living in the stone age. In the past, they have successfully conquered and exploited similar peoples so they intend to do the same here. The events that follow constitute one of the major story arcs.
    One of the nations is preparing to engage in genocide against a group of people that left hundreds of years ago to populate a harsh part of the continent to the south. They have managed to tame the land and are now unwittingly squatting on a valuable strategic resource, which, when combined with minor ethnic differences, is reason enough for some to want to wipe them out. This is another major story arc.

  13. Lisa

    This character is called Ellie. Her parents are old – in their early 60’s ,
    but she is 22. She has straggly thin
    white-blonde hair that is too bright for her – she doesn’t want to stand out. She is shy and jumpy. She has large eyes, pale blue. They are very pretty with a permanent surprised
    look, and she has no idea that they are pretty.
    She is terribly thin, so that her shoulder blades stand out and her arms
    are thin and white as if you are seeing only the bone. She has a defined chin, fine nose and
    cheekbones. She has very little idea of
    who she is. She drifts and flies like a
    leaf blown in the wind, caught this way and that way. She has an adventurous spirit. She is strong but does not yet know it. She is easily manipulated and this confuses
    her. She is yet to understand and become
    wise, but she is learning. She likes
    reading, writing, gazing at the sky or sea.
    She likes to look at and meet interesting people, though she will be
    reticent to introduce things about herself.
    She dislikes loud imposing personalities. She is scared of dogs. She cannot stand other people to be hurt,
    especially the vulnerable. To hear of
    cruelty wounds her. It hurts her like a
    little sharp knife picking at her heart.

    She went to a girl’s boarding school. She spent summer holiday’s with an aunt who
    lived in cottage in the countryside with lots of cats. Her parents are important busy people in
    government, too busy for a child. Her
    mother is kind when she has a moment to be.
    She has a huge library of old books in the house which Ellie loved to
    spend time in when she was allowed. Her
    father is also kind, but distant. They
    have a lot of money and this is what they give to their daughter – the best
    education and money for whatever she needs.
    What motivates her is adventure – meeting different amazing
    colourful people, seeing different amazing beautiful places.
    What is her voice like?
    Clear and pure and high. She likes
    to sing to herself.

    • Dawn Atkin

      Fantastic brainstorm.
      I particularly like the defining quirks and nuances like, for example, she doesn’t like dogs, she sings to herself, she gazes out to sea.
      It seems that money may not be an issue, I wonder where here sensitive nature and journey to wisdom will take her.

      Warm Regards

    • Lisa

      Thank you Dawn. I do have a plan about where she will go – wil have a go at writing a bit more and see what happens.

    • Sandra D

      Wow beautiful character write

    • Lisa

      Thank you! 🙂

    • Dawn Akemi

      Lovely detail. I can see her already. Will be very interested in the journey upon which you send her.

    • Lisa

      Thanks Dawn

    • Joy

      Wow. This is beautiful. Such a dynamic character–shy yet adventurous and kindhearted.

    • Lisa

      Thank you for the encouragement. I like your summary of who she is.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      What stood out to me most was that she does not want to stand out–how appropriate that she is so thin and wispy. What does this character want most?

    • Lisa

      I think she wants to know who she is, and she wants to travel and meet people, which is her way of trying to find out. Pretty typical of someone in their early twenties perhaps!

    • Kenna

      Hi Emily

    • Erick Silver

      Wow…we have the same exact idea…it’s creepy but awesome.
      How did you come out with it?
      Me? I came out with “Ellie” because i was inspired by the 2016 zombie game: last of us
      There is also another “ellie” in the game, but she’s very ignorant and playful.
      But what inspired me the most is how she’s very hardworking, tough, pretty and most of all brave.
      That’s how i came up with a simmalar character “Ellie”

  14. Kessrai

    I chose character. This one is possibly going to be my farthest spanning guy, and he’s chock full of inspiration from vacation.

    “I am not like others. I am not human. I knew that since I first stepped into the beach of Great Heron Lake, where I have always existed.
    I have no name. Most of the time, an appearance in inapplicable, though I have one, always. You don’t expect me to be much, but when you do see me… I’ve seen people awe-struck.

    It’s beautiful.

    This is because I am Great Heron Lake, the largest lake in my world. I am called Heron by the girl I am assisting, though I really am not sure what I’m needed for.
    To be honest… That terrifies me.

    After all I’ve seen, it shouldn’t. I’ve Seen wars, revolutions, genocides, peace, everything that has occurred on my banks, cliffs, and beaches… But this scares me.

    To be honest, I want to go back to Great Heron. I don’t like it on land. I don’t generally speak out that way, but on paper it’s easier. I hate land, with it’s complex social structures, the oddities that it poses – the ones who have no problem tossing their trash onto my water.
    /My/ water. Not theirs. And they abuse it and me. That’s all mankind is – a parasite. Sucking the life from me, and taking too much – I sometimes find myself proud of the shipwrecks and death that have occurred in my water, and sometimes, if I was angry, I’d cause them on purpose.

    That’s the sort of spiritual manifestation I am.

    Temperamental, they say sometimes. I agree. I change my mind at the drop of a hat, I tell no on. I tell no one until I’ve crushed a ship into a rock face, drown the crew – only then do you know to stay off the lake today. I am a force to be feared even if I’m a natural marvel.

    I am the manifestation of the greatest and most dangerous lake in my world. Love me or fear me – I’d suggest both.

    • Miriam N

      I like this Kessai. Its a very interesting perspective. Keep up the good work.

    • Kessrai

      Thank you! 🙂

    • Emily Wenstrom

      How intriguing, love this concept. I wonder what drives Heron to help this girl he mentions when he so desperately wants to get back to his lake?

    • Kessrai

      Thank you! 🙂

  15. Jeffrey Whitney

    I am on my sixth novel. (Nothing published yet but I’m working on it.)
    I think that there is this fine line that every writer has to tread, between not having any idea where the heck your story is headed, and handcuffing your story with an outline. A big outline is such an investment of your time that when you come to a part of the story where want to head in a different direction, (one that might be better than what you have outlined), you don’t want to break from it because of the investment.
    What has worked for me having a starting point clearly in mind, but also having a general idea what the ending will be. Having an ending will keep your story from ranging all over the place. It is the rope that you follow as you go through the forest. There is some slack on the line, but you end up where you are supposed to.

  16. Garabed Khachadour

    great advice

  17. Nammi Rao

    Hi everybody,

    I am in the process of writing a murder mystery. I have a question for you. Does it seem plausible that the husband, who is having an affair with a colleague, wants to murder his wife just because his lover his pregnant and is demanding that he divorce his wife? He is a businessman with a lot to lose if his divorce becomes public. Also, according to my research, it takes at least 6 months for a divorce to be granted, provided it is a mutual agreement. But since his lover wants to marry him before it becomes evident to her family and colleagues that she is pregnant, he decides that getting a hit-man to murder his wife is an easier way out. They’ve been married for 10 years.

  18. Nammi Rao

    Hi everybody,

    I am in the process of writing a murder mystery. I have a question for you. Does it seem plausible that the husband, who is having an affair with a colleague, wants to murder his wife just because his lover his pregnant and is demanding that he divorce his wife? He is a businessman with a lot to lose if his divorce becomes public. Also, according to my research, it takes at least 6 months for a divorce to be granted, provided it is a mutual agreement. But since his lover wants to marry him before it becomes evident to her family and colleagues that she is pregnant, he decides that getting a hit-man to murder his wife is an easier way out. They’ve been married for 10 years and have had a few issues. It hasn’t been a happy marriage the last two years.

    Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!

  19. Len Heggarty

    So Emily you went the right way the way of real life rather than the commercial plastic way. Congratulations. Life itself is not a pretty sight. It is to be experienced in all its tangles and irregularities.

  20. Kenna

    You are so helpful.

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  22. Starlight11

    Just like almost everyone else, I choose character. I might post world or plot later.

    My character is a 16 year old girl by the name of Jaxania Oberin. She was born into a wealthy family where every member has had magical abilities for decades. Unfortunately, Jax was born without them. For this reason, she has been ridiculed by everyone and therefore feels that she has no value. She has found that blending in is the best way to avoid ridicule, but she stands out, despite her most hopeful wishing.

    She has russet hair that falls in gentle ringlets and waves. Her skin is lightly tanned and completely covered in freckles that simply won’t disappear. Her deep purple eyes have an intelligent and mature look about them. Her cheekbones are nicely defined and her face is a little long, giving her a solemn look. She reaches a height of 5’8″.

    Jax is the kind of person who will stick close to the walls at parties and avoid contact to the best of her ability. Should someone approach her, she would answer politely and reveal as little as possible about herself. If the person that approached her was close to her age and they ridiculed her, Sarcasm would seep into her tone.

    She has an intense desire to learn, explore, and discover. For a while, she actually initiated conversations, but ridicule and emotional pain were a consequence too often so now she does her best to avoid it. Jax flourished in the history and biology section of school and wants to study in the best science division. In her spare time, Jax can be found exploring, playing the cello, painting, studying or rescuing animals.

    She has come to believe that pain is simply a part of life and has grown somewhat calloused to it, though when done right, she can still feel incredible pain. She has a hard time empathizing with physical pain. Jax’s knowledge of right and wrong has been quite muddled, so she has no problem taking the easy way out. She does try to follow the city’s basic moral code:Do not steal, do not lie, respect those in authority, do not kill, and do not be promiscuous.

    When asked about her family, should Jax tell you what she honestly thinks, she would say that she does love and care for her parents, but being with them is painful. She believes that her parents, Kaero, an architect, and Elina, an interior designer, love her too, but they just don’t know how to express it. She really respects her older brother, Kaero the II, and she has an almost good relationship with him. Her older sister, Bronwyn, is much harder to deal with. Bronwyn has mercilessly teased Jax for years and Jax can’t bring herself to like Bronwyn at all. Jax has a rather large extended family and her family takes up a nice portion of the city.

    When Jax is nervous, she will discreetly blow on her thumb, play air piano or bite her knuckles.

  23. jaimie


  24. Erick Silver

    I need some advice please, I’m writing a story about 9 teenagers and they all have a special element and attitude.
    All you need to know is that 1 character: Erick Darkens
    He has the element of:Space and Time.(meaning slows down time, stop time, fasten time, makes a white hole, bla bla bla, you get the point)
    Anyway, in the story, there is 5 females.
    All of them has a connection to Erick
    And the other 3 boys has 0 connection.
    Here is e problem:
    Do you think i should make them all connected?
    Do you think i should continue?
    Pls comment below, i really need help.

  25. Jemuel Godswill

    Hi guys
    I am Jemuel,I have a lot of story running through my head. on the process of writting one,I come up with another but now I am fixed on writting about a long time story which has been in my head since I was age 13. Now I have given it a title D13 meaning District 13. and it’s all about a young boy who left his aunt behind and went to the city for a greener pasture while going to live with his elder and only brother. But getting there is he found out about his brother job and which cost the life of his brother and loved once.
    He escaped and travelled to Ghana hopeing nt to be found but there he ran into a bigger problem and went to prison. Some years later he escaped through the help of a warder but the third day in the warders house his past return.
    I need help to finish this story like names of hotel and streets in places like Ghana,Turkey,Dubia,Morroco,Egypt,Lybia and many more.
    Pls contact me on whatsapp 09065333021. Facebook @etz Jemuel IREM. Insta @ Godzilla studio



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