Original ideas

There is no formula for having a great idea – but to begin your writing, you do need, at least, some kind of idea. Then you need to find ways to turn your idea into something a reader would enjoy reading. This is the creative part, taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary.

For example, think about writing a description of a coastline. You might start to think straight away about a crowded beach - children playing, deck chairs, sun shining, happy sounds; but, if you stop for a moment, you’ll recall that that's been done before. It's okay, but it's hardly original.

Beach scene with oil on the sand.
An oily polluted beach could be the basis for an original story

What about turning that idea on its head - not a crowded beach, but a deserted beach? Not summer, but winter? Not lovely and inviting, but covered in oil and polluted? It's not a pretty picture, but it's original - and that gives impact.

Telling a story

When you tell a friend a story of something real that happened in life, you’ll build it up around a climax of action, but tell it in a way that keeps your friend interested and listening. Maybe you saw a footballer break his leg during a Saturday match and you then tell it at school on Monday.

A written story isn’t face-to-face and you don’t know the reader and this means you’ll need more elaboration, explanation and detail – but you can still write it in a very similar way to how you might tell it. Even everyday incidents can make very effective stories if you elaborate and dramatise, add detail and explanation, always keeping a sense of tension till the end. Your reader, like your listening friend, enjoys wondering 'where it all is leading' and 'what will happen next'.