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The Original Idea: The Seed of Your Story


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The idea is the heart of your story. Knowing it keeps you on target to complete the book and succeed. Idea is not story. Being able to state your idea in one sentence is key. We often spend an entire day at our writing workshop getting the four attendees to pin this one sentence down, but that's how important it is!

“A book to inspire, instruct and challenge the writer in everyone.”
#1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Susan Wiggs

"An invaluable resource for beginning and seasoned writers alike. Don't miss out."
#1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Terry Brooks

Published in: Education
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The Original Idea: The Seed of Your Story

  1. 1. The Original Idea The seed of your story.
  2. 2. What Is Your Original Idea? Good news is you had one. Bad news is you probably forgot it. It is usually the first thought you had (the spark of inspiration). It is the foundation of your book, the seed.
  3. 3. A character (or cast of characters). A plot. A setting or scene. An intent (theme). A “What If”. A “High Concept”. Original Ideas Can be Anything.
  4. 4. Original Ideas Can Be Anything. Character: “Who protects the sheep from the wolves? Another wolf: Will Kane.” NEW YORK MINUTE Plot: “Same date, six different years, the Time Patrol must keep the Shadow from changing our timeline.” TIME PATROL Setting or scene: “An international treaty bans weapons in Antarctica: What if the US put nuclear weapons there and lost track of them?” ETERNITY BASE
  5. 5. Original Ideas Can Be Anything. Intent/Theme: “Which is more important? Honor or Loyalty?” DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY “What If”: “What if people going into the Witness Protection Program really disappear?” CUT OUT High Concept: “In a post-apocalyptic world, what if the top .1% is delineated by length of life rather than wealth?” BURNERS
  6. 6. Do You Actually Need One Sentence? The creative process makes a difference. Are you front-loading writer vs. a back-loading writer? Is it clear from the start or do you have to discover it? Genre can make a difference. Thrillers, mysteries, suspense, science fiction, fantasy: probably better to have the idea. Romance, literary writing: you might have to find it in the writing.
  7. 7. The Importance of Your Original Idea It initiates the creative process. Remembering it keeps you focused. It is often the core of the pitch to sell the book. Do you remember the moment of conception for your book?
  8. 8. The Importance of Your Original Idea It is the first thing I do in a writing workshop. We spend as much time needed to get the author to write what their book is about in one sentence. Can you do that?
  9. 9. What To Write? Mark Twain: “Write what you know.” Write what you want to know. What is your background? Write what you read. Write what you are passionate about.
  10. 10. The Character Idea Start with a character/cast of characters Place them in a setting= time/place Throw obstacles in their way Characters will determine story Lonesome Dove New York Minute
  11. 11. The Character Idea
  12. 12. Focusing Your Idea When you write your one sentence down, check to see what the subject of the sentence is: Character? Protagonist, antagonist? Plot? Check to see what the verb is. Positive or negative? Action or re-action verb? Try to have inherent conflict in your idea!
  13. 13. Where The Shiver? What excited you? What excites the people you tell it to? Where’s the emotion, the passion? You are selling emotion and logic. What does the reader relate to? Can you communicate the shiver?
  14. 14. Intent The why behind the what. What do you feel? Why are you writing this book? What do you want readers to feel? You always have an intent. Positive versus negative. Resolution= the payoff to the reader.
  15. 15. Study And Find Ideas Look for the original idea in every book you read and every movie/show you watch. Usually a sentence or a scene will jump out at you. As soon as you finish a book, immediately go back and re-read the opening chapter.
  16. 16. Study And Find Ideas Where did the Ark of the Covenant end up at the end of Indiana Jones? Warehouse 13 The Unit Meets Warehouse 13 Nightstalkers: Area 51 The “anti-Western” Unforgiven Out of the coffin, out of the closet True Blood
  17. 17. How Is Your Idea Different?It isn’t: every idea has been done. The difference comes in the transfer to story. Usually through: Unique character. (Alien) A 1950s movie has the same idea. Unique setting. (A Thousand Acres) King Lear on a farm. Unique POV. (Wind Done Gone) Reversed point of view. Unique intent/theme. (High Noon) The town doesn’t band together to support the sheriff— anti-motif.
  18. 18. Idea Is Not Story Every idea has been done. When I say original, I mean original to you in your moment of conception. Story is (covered on other slideshows): Who (characters) What (plot) Where & When (setting) Why? (intent) Idea can’t change, story can. How are you going to do it differently?
  19. 19. For more free slideshows on writing, survival, history and other topics, go to:
  20. 20. How to write the book How to be an author “A book to inspire, instruct and challenge the writer in everyone.” #1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Susan Wiggs "An invaluable resource for beginning and seasoned writers alike. Don't miss out." #1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Terry Brooks
  21. 21. “In Who Dares Wins, Bob Mayer gives us a unique and valuable window into the shadowy world of our country’s elite fighting forces and how you can apply many of the concepts and tactics they use for success in your own life and organization.” Jack Canfield: Co-creator Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Success Principles “Success in life—as in combat—has always demanded depth of character. Who Dares Wins reveals what it takes for you to move into the world of elite warriors and how their training developed that Can Do spirit and Special Forces ethos of excellence.” Lewis C. Merletti: Director United States Secret Service (retired), Former Sgt 5th Special Forces Group (Vietnam); Cleveland Browns Executive Vice President & COO
  22. 22. New York Times bestselling author, graduate of West Point and former Green Beret. He’s had over 80 books published across an array of genres, including the #1 bestselling series Green Berets, Shadow Warriors, Time Patrol, Area 51, and Atlantis. He’s presented for over 1,000 organizations during three decades of writing full time. If you’re interested in his weekend intensive workshop or having him present for your group, email him at: