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NaNoWriMo 101: How to Find Inspiration

I love coming up with new ideas for books. Creating a short summary and a pitch is one of favorite parts of the process. In fact, I tend to have more ideas than I have time to write them! So, if you’re struggling to come up with what to work on next, here are some places I’ve found can lead to inspiration!

1.) Real life. I have, on more than one occasion, taken a moment from my own life and let it grow into something much bigger. In fact, this helped bring my Swoon Reads books to life!

2.) TV, movies, songs. Sometimes I’ll watch or hear something and my brain goes into overdrive coming up with different scenarios. For my middle grade series, Bedeviled, (about a girl who finds out her dad is the devil), I saw an episode of a show that revolved around the devil. I remember thinking it would be fun if the main character was the devil’s kid. And a girl. And a middle schooler. And so on and so on. Before I knew it, I had come up with something completely different from the show that inspired me. It became my own story. One I knew I had to write!

3.) What ifs. Taking something (like the TV show I saw about the devil) and adding to it is another way to let ideas come to fruition. It works in many situations. Like with Finding Mr. Better-Than-You. There’s a girl who gets dumped. I thought: What if it’s in public? What if her ex finds someone new? Etc. It works for pretty much any situation. Just add a what-if—what if they could fly? What if Siri took control of their life? What if a wizard moved next door? Just keep going until you find a what-if you love!

4.) Writing prompts. Pick two things. Or have someone else pick two things. It can be anything: A unicorn and a wish. A lottery ticket and a baseball. A failed test and an airplane. Once you have them, come up with a short story that involves the two. It may not turn out great, but it gets you thinking—and writing—and the more you do that, the more likely you’ll find an idea that speaks to you.

5.) A suggestion. Sometimes someone will give you a suggestion that you can make your own! I’ve started working on my next book, and the idea stemmed from a conversation with Holly (Swoon editor extraordinaire!). Without going into details (more info on this book will be coming soon!), she mentioned something, and before I knew it I was seeing characters and an opening scene in my mind!

6.) Dreams. Sometimes my dreams have led to fun ideas. (On one occasion, a dream even helped me formulate a scene I was struggling with!) If you’re a dreamer, keep a notebook and pen by your bed and jot down some notes when you wake up. You may have your next book there!

7.) Anything that motivates you to sit down and write! Ultimately ideas can come from anywhere. Pick your favorite, use one of the strategies listed above, pick an idea out of a hat, but the main thing is to write! And if you find you don’t love what you’re working on, you can always pick something new!

Happy writing!

Author spotlight

Shani Petroff

Shani Petroff is a writer living in New York City. She's the author of the “Bedeviled” series, which includes Daddy’s ...

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