How To Turn An Idea Into A Story

By on July 26, 2017
How To Turn An Idea Into A Story - Writer's

As writers, we are always on the lookout for new ideas. We keep our eyes, ears and minds open in the hope that something will suddenly inspire us, and we will get that little spark of desire, that little flutter of excitement that means that a new idea is brewing.

However, as writers, we also know that many ideas - yes even the ones we got really excited about, never actually translate to stories. Often we find that when we try to build on an idea out, or we sit down to start writing, we quickly realise that the idea simply doesn’t work when we try to turn it into a fully fleshed out story.

This naturally can feel disappointing. However, if you find that this happens to you more often than you’d like, it may not be that the idea was simply a bad one, but rather that you haven’t put in the time and effort required to help it take off.

So how do you turn an idea into a story? Here are some helpful tips.


Once you have that initial spark of an idea, the next thing you need to do is brainstorm like crazy and see where it takes you. This part of the process should be fun and easy. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself - not everything you come up with has to be used, but just try to get down as much as possible. You could try creating a mind map, doing word association, or just jotting down snippets and little-fractured bits of the story on cards or post it notes and then moving them around and grouping them together to see if anything comes out of it.

Write a proper outline

Once you have exhausted yourself coming up with lots of different ideas, it’s time to write your story outline. This doesn’t have to be a blow by blow account of what happens, but should have enough detail to make you feel confident that the story works, and that there is indeed enough of a story for you to bother writing it in the first place!

Flesh out your characters

Now you know your idea is going places, try to focus on your characters. No matter how good your plot is, it simply won’t work unless your story is full of interesting, intriguing characters who your reader is excited to follow. Spend time really getting to know your characters and thinking about ways to make them resonate with your reader. When you do this you will become so much more invested in your story, and you readers will care more too.


Make sure that you do a thorough amount of research before you start writing your book. You don’t want your story to collapse because your premise was based on something that simply wouldn’t work in 'real life'. Of course, the beauty of fiction is having the poetic licence to create worlds where the rules and facts of the one we live in don’t apply. But if you are writing the kind of book that is based in the world as we know it, you need to make sure you get your facts straight before you begin.

Know how it finishes

Every great book has a killer ending. Makes sure you know what yours is before you begin. This way you can see how the entire story will play out, right until the very end.

Turning an idea into a proper story takes time and skill. Of course, your idea will change and grow along the way, but by following the above tips you can assure yourself that your idea will work as a story and that you don’t waste any of your precious writing time!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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