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Question
Dear Vincent,
I am wanting to write a book that is fiction and im having difficulty comeing up with a story.
I've always wrote storys since I was 5 years old, now im 15, but for some reason I cant think.
Do you have any suggestions on how to create an idea? I know what type of book im wanting to write (fantasy). If you can help me at all with how to start out that would be great.
Thanks,
-Kim W.

Answer
Kim:

I was actually tempted not to answer this, because it's really a very broad question, and I like to avoid those.  But then I thought I could give you at least something... and something important.

No matter what genre you're looking to write, whether it's fantasy or murder mysteries or whatever, there is one bit of advice that I've always found to be the single biggest thing that helps guide my way when I'm writing.  And that's this:  Write what you're passionate about.

I'd suggest that you look deeply within yourself and find out what you believe is important in life.  Ask yourself:

• If you could change peoples’ minds about something, what would it be?
• What do you hate?
• What makes your blood boil?
• What do you love?
• What would you be willing to die for?

Yes, some writers only write to entertain.  But to craft a truly memorable story, there must be more than entertainment.  A writer MUST have something to say.  Something important.  So what do you have to say that’s important?

When you have a list of, say, five topics in answer to the above questions, look them over carefully.  Pick one that really speaks to you, right now.  Thinking about that issue should suggest some story ideas to you.

For example, my latest novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, came into existence because one of the issues I care deeply about is the separation of church and state, as guaranteed by our First Amendment.  I saw our society moving away from that, toward a theocracy.  And theocracies have never been good for the citizens of those societies.  And that's where the idea for the book came from.

My own fantasy novel, WISH YOU WERE HERE, was a bit more ambiguous than that, but I was still finding my own path as a writer.  However, the book does cover issues that are important to me.  I dealt a lot with abandonment issues in that story, and those have always cropped up in my writing.

I hope this is helpful to you, Kim.  I honestly don't know that I myself would have found it very enlightening at the age of 15.  But today, I find it to be the single most "pure" goal I have when writing.  If I'm not writing about something I'm passionate about, then it's not worth writing.

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.

Experience

For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

Education/Credentials
BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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