Richard Weirich

How to Use Seed Ideas for Creative Writing

My new novel, Alexandra’s Song, began with a seed idea. “A girl is running.” Planted it at bedtime. Nurtured it while trying to fall asleep. Woke up early with a story concept which I immediately used to construct an outline. By lunchtime, Alexandra’s Song was born.

seed ideasObviously, there is nothing new under the sun. Googled it just to be certain. Yep. The name is used for teaching grades 3-5 how to write. At least my process is different but just as simple. In fact, so elementary that I showed it to my eleven-year-old granddaughter in under fifteen minutes.

Seed idea. “A girl is running.” Then you expand upon it.

  • Who is running?
  • Why is she running?
  • Where is she headed?

And you just keep using those basic questions you learned in journalism class: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? And then the vital question from your creative writing course. “What if?”

Just keep expanding on your seed idea and soon you will have a full blown story and an outline.

Conceptualizing new stories with this method is a breeze. Nailing down a title, not so much. Before settling on Alexandra’s Song, I was determined to call my book, Angel’s Diner. Seemed fitting. That’s where Molly Sanders meets Angelica Lopez, her guardian angel. Then I thought about calling the story, Divinity Falls, which is the fictional town where the story is set. Ultimately, there was what I believed to be an exciting twist in the narrative that dealt with Alexandra’s Song. Bingo! Book title. Regardless of that minor struggle, the title also came from the original seed idea.

That little seed is now growing into a series of novels which put Angel’s Diner back into play. Book II is in the works, and it will be entitled, Alexandra and Grace. New but similar seed idea: “A girl is frightened.” Book III: “A girl is fed-up.” Book IV: “A girl is heartbroken.” You get the picture.

This method also prevents rabbit chasing. As long as the plant and the resulting fruit emanate from the same seed, you will stay on track.

My first three novels were written in the historical fiction genre. Fifth Sunday: The Loving Hands Murder is set in the 1980s in Alabama. In the Valley of Hope: Faith Conquers Fear is primarily rooted in 1919 and set in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. And Farewell PFC POLK: The End of a Nightmare belongs to the 1950s and is located in my hometown of Strasburg, Virginia, and Japan.

By the time I got around to conceptualizing the fourth novel, I wanted to remove the historical restraints and rely solely on my imagination. Pure invention. Total creativity. Unbridled fantasy. Believable. Real. Enter the supernatural and the inclusion of angels all from a seed.

Struggling for a story idea? Then plant a seed idea. Nurture it. And watch it grow.

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