61 Thought Starters
to get you in
the Write Frame of Mind
If you know every characters’ internal and external
motivation before you start writing, you’ll be less surprised
by their actions.
Give your protagonist a nervous tick or habit that reveals
their character. Make them fold a napkin, slurp a straw, twirl
their hair or check their phone incessantly.
To ﬁnd ﬁctional names, open up a magazine and scan the
masthead of editors and contributors, then combine the ﬁrst
or last name with a noun.
Often the best villains are the ones that practically mirror the
main character except in one or two areas.
If your antagonist showed up in an art gallery what pieces
would they gravitate to and how long would they stay?
How would you feel if you were in a cafe and you learned
another writer was looking at you, getting inspiration for
What trait do you personally have that would serve your
What would happen if you changed the gender of every
character in your story and started over? Would your
characters be the same if you changed their race, or age? If
not, you might not have enough life in them yet. If you
change those identities, your characters should change. If
they don't, you’ve got some more work to do.
What would your story's antagonist blog about?
Put your characters in conﬂict. Make them uncomfortable
and write them out of a predicament.
What would happen if one of the characters you created
Pick up on a random conversation at a cafe and then
imagine the backstory or create a new one.
Characters that have at least one thing that others admire
about them, and one thing that makes them an ass, gives
Run your characters through something like a Facebook 20
questions and see what they would answer.
Sit your characters in front of Google. What would they do?
Would you like to have dinner with your character, or are you
worried that they may think you're too boring? Would they
pick up the tab?
What’s an interesting and potentially awkward dinner topic
to have with the characters you create?
Be careful of developing crushes on your characters, they
don't love you nearly as much. What if they did?
Interview your ﬁctional character.
Open Cosmo or whatever magazine they would read and
have them take one of the quizzes.
Do you know if your characters are left or right handed or
are you just assuming?
Insult your characters and pick a ﬁght with them. See what
Your characters will tell you when the words don't feel right.
Until then, let them talk.
Give your villains something to love and your heros
something to hate.
When you can't write, plot. When you can't plot, write.
Google as your character for 5 minutes then look at your
search history. TaDa! Their personality is revealed.
Sometimes you have to silence your pen to hear your
Make your character arc match your character ache.
Write on index cards, then shufﬂe them until a story
emerges, then write to bridge each card. If stuck, skip
Never neglect the middle of your story. Why? As in life, your
middle makes an impression to those who you've enticed to
It doesn't matter where you start. It only matters that you
start, and then ﬁnish. It won't be complete otherwise.
Typos are the cowlicks of a writer's life. Tidy up, but don't
The beginning is a great place to start, but anywhere will do.
Make villains do three things expected and two things
Pay attention to your villains. Know their internal / external
motivations & conﬂicts as well as any other character.
The 'villain' can be a clash within the Hero's value system.
The villain is the personiﬁcation of an obstacle to the Hero.
It’s fun when an obstacle can't be easily assigned to a
It's killer when the Hero & Nemesis see themselves in each
other's eyes and are disgusted by the view.
Make your nemesis & hero have 80% - 90% in common
with each other then highlight what's different.
One person's hero is another person's nemesis.
Inspiration is the spark that starts you on your path.
Discipline is the fuel that keeps you following it.
Voice is your wardrobe & comportment. You can change it,
but generally you don't. You stay in a range that ﬁts the
Find your voice by looking at your body of work. Voice is
bigger. It's there all along. Change it if you want to.
Books have been published about discarded shopping lists.
Ignore people who say, "No one will read ..." They lack
Don't beat yourself up as a writer. Pay professional editors
to do that for you. Struggle with editing. Don't struggle with
writing. If you’re creating a story you get to make things up.
Desire is easy. Commitment takes work.
The writer is responsible for building a relationship with a
reader. This is accomplished through writing.
Hope is a vital ingredient, not the meal. A day with only
hope is destined to disappoint. A day with no hope is
destined to fail.
Pacing ebbs and ﬂows like a tide. It's predictable, but
sometimes a storm wrecks havoc. The storms are your plot
Try to write while standing up. You're voice will have more
authority and less entitlement and whining.
Plot your life as you would your stories. Fill them with
interesting characters to face predicaments in a setting you
Read something important. Learn something important.
Write something important. Do something important. Not for
yourself, for others.
Want to write? Schedule the time in your calendar and keep
your appointment. When it's time to write - write.
Writers pluck inspiration from air and color them with ink.
Those who are successful get readers, who begin to think.
The written word can been consumed in many places.
If you feel "stuck" in a ﬁrst draft, you're not understanding
the concept of a "ﬁrst draft."
Answer the question "What happened?" in an intriguing way
sprinkled with grace, humor and urgency.
Sometimes the piece you're working on is like unrequited
love. You may be lavishing it with unwelcome attention.
Decision by indecision is the plague of progress. Errors can
be ﬁxed, but change can never occur unless one acts.
The greatest obstacle for a writer is perfection. Their fear of
it, or their belief that they have obtained it.
Craft trumps inspiration, but without inspiration, craft is
About the Author
Karl Bimshas is the author of several business and inspirational books and
programs designed for people who are serious about ﬁnding, setting and getting
their great goals.
He owns an independent consultancy for personal, professional and executive
development. As a valued strategic accountability partner he helps his clients
discover the aha within.
He is also publishing a growing number of titles in ﬁction. For more information,
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