Q: So, what is the first thing you do when you write a story?
A: Come up with an idea! For me, it is easy, because my brain just pumps out idea after idea. But for most people that are just starting out, ideas just don't flow like that. So for ideas, watch movies, read books, and search myths/legends on the internet. Sometimes doing these things can spark your imagination and get the wheels turning. So, get the initial inspiration from these sources and add your own twist. Look up my post entitled Just Published WW2.
Q: Do you brain storm or use outlines before you write?
A: I have done both, but it doesn't really work for me to make rigid outlines. By rigid, I mean detailed to the point where all you have to do is write dialogue and there is no room for spontaneity. I like to use loose outlines, meaning I know how I want to begin. I have some ideas for the middle, and I know where I want to end up. I write every idea down. When I start writing, the process is spontaneous. I know the general idea of the chapter, but I am able to come up with new ideas at the same time and integrate them into the chapter.
Q: How do you come up with characters?
A: Characters can look a number of ways like having many different eye and hair color. Look at your friends. They come in all shapes and sizes. Personality is what is important. For me, each character is like an exaggerated facet of my own personality. So if the character is supposed to be crazy, I know how crazy I can be, and write like I was 10x more insane than normal. You can also use those around you as inspiration. So if you have a superficial friend that only wears brand name clothes, and there is a place in your story for a character like that then write about them. Stay away from sterotypical or stock characters!!! No dumb, popular cheerleaders. No class clowns or school bullies. Make up a character that is all your own. There are plenty of articles about this online so if you have questions about this, you can Google some great articles with examples.
Q: What is the key to writing an entertaining story?
A: You! Never write something that you wouldn't read yourself. Odds are if you wouldn't read it, no one else will either! Write stories that are you. For example, when I was younger, I tried to write a romance novel. The problem was I couldn't finish it! It wasn't me. I don't read romance novels! I like the paranormal. So, I added vampires to this story, and suddenly, the book came to life. It was easier to write, and the story was 10x better. So, don't write anything that you wouldn't read yourself.
Hope this helps. If you have any more questions out there, send them to me. I may answer them on future posts. Thanks!