Writers work in lots of different ways. For some writers the story plot comes first – Stephanie Meyer apparently actually dreamt the whole plot of Twilight, wrote it up and we all know what happened next. For other writers the title comes first – a writer friend of mine finds it difficult to write a story if she hasn’t got a title – but for me the character comes first. When I was writing my YA, Sapphire Blue, it was Sapphire who popped into my head first, and gradually her story started to unfold.
I have to know all about my character before I can write my story. I like to know what they look like, how they talk, think and act, what their family is like, who their friends – and enemies are. In a nutshell, I want to know what makes them tick. I think that it’s the character that makes the story because different people react in different ways to situations, things that are a problem to one character aren’t to another. So you can have the same scenario but would get a different story according to the character you’re writing about.
If I can’t think of a character for a story I look at some pictures and ask myself questions about them. Where do they live? Who are their friends or enemies? Then I try to place my character in a situation that might cause them a problem. I ask myself how would they react? Would they be frightened? I play around with the idea a bit, imagining all sorts of scenarios until I have a story plot that will work.
So if you’re stuck with an idea for a story why not create a character, ask yourself what their story is? What are their dreams, problems, wishes and fears? What is the thing they desire most? The thing they fear most? Asking questions like this can help you get story ideas.