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One Way to Find Inspiration: Make A List!

When it came time to start writing my next novel after I’d finished Mind Games, I came up blank. Suddenly, I had zero ideas. I didn’t even know what I wanted to write about, let alone the fact that I had to figure out a premise, characters, conflict, kissing scenes, etc. In order to find a book idea, I first had to figure out what inspired me.

I decided the best way to do that was to sit down and write out a stream of consciousness list of all the topics that intrigue me to see if it sparked anything for me.

So how do you do create such a list?

  1. Turn off the Internet.
  2. Open up a blank document on your computer or get a pen and paper.
  3. Set a timer for five minutes.
  4. Start writing down anything you can think of that you’re interested in. The key is keep writing without stopping until the timer goes off. This can be a topic, a type of character, a trope, a period of history, or philosophical pondering. Anything that intrigues you!
  5. If five minutes wasn’t enough, repeat the exercise.

Below you’ll find a Stream of Consciousness list I created before I came up with The Con Code.

  • Forbidden romances
  • Bad boys that choose to turn good
  • Sneaking out
  • Kisses that are a surprise but also inevitable, ones you wait and wait for
  • Secrets
  • Art; creativity; painting
  • School uniforms
  • Chaste and forbidden sleepovers with a boy
  • Secret societies
  • Male best friends that are completely platonic (or so it seems)
  • Sweeping, all consuming romances
  • Summer camp/travel camp/teen tour
  • Student council elections
  • Surprise twists
  • Seemingly bad boy that has a secret soft side
  • Smart boys and even smarter girls
  • Mystery
  • Playfulness/Fun
  • Unexpected settings
  • Competition (not sports)
  • Hidden gems of real places
  • Heists
  • Breaking the rules
  • Creepy oddities from history
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Secret codes to crack

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At first glance, the list looks totally random. Sure, some of the items on there seem to go together, but not all. However, every single item on that list ended up making its way into The Con Code, one way or another.

Once I had the list, I was able to see some common themes. Heists. Codes to crack. Secrets. Mysteries. But also, the part with the teen tour really stood out to me. When I was a teen, I went on a teen tour and it was the best time of my life. Maybe I could use those experiences in a book. And how fun would it be if the characters on that teen tour were hiding out for some reason? What if they had to perform heists?

Once I started asking those kinds of questions, the premise and characters became clearer and clearer.

When you read The Con Code, keep the list above in mind and try to find each of the elements listed above!

Author spotlight

Shana Silver

Rachel Shane (writing as Shana Silver) studied creative writing at Syracuse University. She's been a computer animator, an e-book creator …

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