Brain Storming – When It Rains It Pours…Hopefully

By Sparkle Abbey

Welcome back to part three of So You Want to Write a Book!

If you’ve decided there’s a book in you, thanks for joining us on this wild journey! Over the last couple of months, we’ve asked you to dig deep, think about what you really want to write about, and assigned homework.

First, we asked you to define the type of book you want to write. Last month we asked you to read extensively in your genre. How did you do? Do you feel well-read?

We also asked you to keep a notebook and jot down all your ideas. If you don’t have the notebook handy, go ahead and grab it. We’ll wait.

You’re back? Great! Let’s get started.

Step three is where we want you to take every idea and thought you have for your book and put those in your notebook.


This would be a fun scene, a snippet of dialogue, a unique character, an odd trait or habit that you find interesting, etc. We’re not suggesting you outline, at least not yet. We are suggesting you fill that notebook with ideas. Remember, at this stage, there is no such thing as a bad idea.

If you need help, get together with some friends over coffee or wine and brainstorm. If you still need help getting started, here are some questions you can ask yourself.

For a fiction book:

  • Setting – Where will your story take place?
    • Time period – past, present, future
    • City, small town, urban, suburban
  • What season is it?
  • Who are your characters?
    • Main characters, secondary, protagonist, antagonist, villain, hero, heroin
    • What do they look like?
    • Where do they live?
    • What are their beliefs?
    • What’s important to them?
  • Whose point of view is the story told?
    • First-person, third-person, omniscient
    • Which character should the story be told from?
  • What is your main story idea?
  • What’s the subplot idea?
  • What problem will your main character face?
  • How will that problem intensify?
  • How will they overcome their problem?

Is that a lot to think about? It is! Maybe you can answer all of these or maybe just part of them. That’s okay. Right now, we just want you to jot down everything you can think of.

If you’re writing a non-fiction book here are some prompts for you:

  • What do you want to achieve with your book?
  • Who is this book for?
    • Hobbyist
    • History buffs
    • Self-help seekers
    • A general audience
    • A very niche group
  • Do your research
    • Online or the library
    • Interview people
  • How will you say it?
    • Is it a narrative – you’re telling a story
      • Autobiography
      • Memoir
      • Biography
    • Expository – you’re showing the story by explaining your topic
      • Self-help
      • How-to
      • Cookbook

Are the ideas flowing? Is there a story starting to unfold? We encourage you to write everything down, even if it sounds like a crazy idea. You’ll be surprised what you’ll use later as you’re hammering out your story and need that perfect twist.

We’ll check back in with you next month with the next step. Until then, if you have questions, feel free to ask us.


Sparkle Abbey’s latest story (written in first person) is a short but fun one. If you’ve not yet
checked out PROJECT DOGWAY, this is a great time to do that. 

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

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