Archive for novel

Marketing Ideas to Increase Sales of Your Self-Published Novel

Posted in Marketing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Marketing Increases Sales

I will soon be ready to publish my novel. This will be a great achievement, but it’s just the beginning. If I plan on selling the book, my next step is to market it. If I don’t market my book, no one will know it’s available, which means no one will know how good (or bad) it is. I have to market my novel so that people will know about it and hopefully, be encouraged to buy it.  Below are some ideas I have on how to market a self-published novel.

Keywords & Tags – Make sure that when you set your book up on its self-publishing platform that you use proper keywords and tags to identify your book. If your book is sci-fi, use the keyword sci-fi. Also consider the subgenre. Is it a space opera or is it cyberpunk, time travel, apocalyptic, hard science fiction, or another type of sci-fi subgenre? Is it for children, teens, or adults? Here is a good article about keywords for those of you planning on self-publishing on Amazon or CreateSpace – https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/createspace-kindle-keyword-and-category-tips/

Multiple Publishing Platforms – If you publish your book on Amazon and/or CreateSpace, keep in mind that your book will only be sold on Amazon’s site. If you want your book sold on other sites, then you need to contact those other sites. By the way, if you self-publish on Smashwords, Smashwords automatically offers your book for sale on multiple book sites (as an e-book only, but e-books are currently outselling physical books and this is not likely to change).

Your Own Website – It’s so easy nowadays to set up your own website and/or blog. WordPress, Wix, and others allow you to do it for free. However, building your own website isn’t enough. You have to market it too. For a website, you have to consider SEO marketing. For a blog, you need to post regularly and about topics that would attract visitors who would be interested in your novel.

Social Media – Consider a Facebook fan page for your novel. Consider a Twitter account. Depending on your genre, you may even try Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and others. Just be careful about spamming. You don’t want every single post to be about your novel. For example, sci-fi writers can post about new tech, new sci-fi authors, new tv shows or movies, and so on.

Paid Advertising – Advertise on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Also, consider advertising on book selling sites. Amazon has such a service, as does many other book selling sites.

Local Events – One of my writer friends pays for a booth at local comicon events. Depending on your genre, you may also consider Renaissance festivals, gun shows, home shows, lawn & garden shows, art festivals, and so on. Keep in mind that sometimes booths at these events are rather expensive. I’ve seen booths cost as much as $500 for just a three-day event. It might help to have other paraphernalia for sale. My writer friend also sells t-shirts with art from his book covers on them, mugs, calendars, etc.

Book Signing – Ask your local coffee shops and books stores if you can do a book signing event. Be sure to advertise locally on Facebook groups, radio stations, your town’s website, and wherever else you can think of that would attract people appropriate to your genre.

Get Legitimate Reviews – Don’t ask your friends. You need to find the right sources or your reviews will mean nothing. Here is a good article that explains why – https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/when-reader-targeting-goes-wrong/#more-4479.

For legitimate reviews, try contacting websites that sell books to see if they do book reviews or if they know someone who does. Try bloggers who regularly review books of your genre. Be cautious of paying for reviews. Their reviews can come across as being biased. This doesn’t mean that you can’t pay someone for their time, but you will want to check out their previous reviews. If they always give good reviews, then no one will take their review of your novel seriously. You risk a bad review, but if your work is good enough you can balance it out with several legitimate good reviews. Besides, even bad reviews can get you publicity. Do you know how many bad reviews the Gothic horror novelist Stephen King gets? Lots.

I hope this list gives you some ideas on how to market your self-published novel. If you have any other ideas, feel free to share.

New Addition to Part Two, The Dragon Emperor

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2 with tags , , , on July 29, 2017 by Dawn Ross

My content editor said if I have multiple points of view in a novel, the novel needs to begin with the main character who will make the biggest change and face the biggest challenges. Originally, I had my novel begin with Commander J.D. Hapker (or J.T. as he was called in the first draft). Then I decided Captain Robert Arden should start the book. Now that I’ve received this device from my content editor, I am trying to have the book start with Jori. Jori, after all, will face the biggest challenge. And he is the main focus of Part Two. So below is how I plan on starting Part Two. It needs some work, so any advice you have on making it better will be most welcome.

55 Cancri e

After weeks of creeping along like a kabutomushi beetle, the Dragon warship approached Thendi. The deep blue oceans of the planet caressed the edges of large reddish-brown blocks of land. Wisps of clouds dazzled the landscape like coolant on rusted metal. Glistening whiteness nestled the poles like warhead caps.

The planet appeared serene, but its peacefulness was a lie. Its people lived lives nearly as violent as the Tredon warriors, but for a different reason. Beneath the outer surface lay violent clashes of grinding plates. Sometimes their collisions scarred the land with jutting mountains of rubble. And on the other end where the plates slid apart were gashes of red, making the planet appear as though it were a living thing that had been ruthlessly stabbed.

Jori sat at one of the workstations of the Dragon’s bridge. His heart beat dully in his chest as his father’s ship crept onward. The dot of Thendi grew larger and time ticked by like a time bomb in slow-motion.

He wasn’t afraid exactly. Not of battle, anyway. He was a warrior, bred and born. And although he was only ten year-cycles old, he already exceeded the martial abilities of most full-grown warriors. Only his strength limited him. And, in this case, his resolve.

Worry gnawed his innards. Prontaean Alliance ships were undoubtedly protecting the planet. His father had said the Alliance was the enemy, but Jori was beginning to see him for what he was—a predator worse than the blackbeast who stalks the fawn because at least the blackbeast only hunted as a matter of survival.

His father, Emperor Kavak, military ruler of the Tredon-dominated worlds, sat coolly in the throne-like chair at the center of the bridge. He was far from relaxed, though. Jori didn’t need to use his ability to sense emotions to know his father was giddy with anticipation. He saw it on his face—the flared nostrils of his hawk-like nose, the firmness of his angular jaw, and the glittering of his dark eyes.

Terk, Daiichi/First Prince Kavak, Jori’s elder brother, was filled with the same anxiousness, though it was mixed with a hard determination as he manned the tactical station. At fourteen year-cycles, Terk was already nearly as tall as their father. He didn’t yet have a man’s bulk, but he was strong. His black uniform matched his dark hair, both of which seemed almost grey when compared to the darkness of his eyes.

When Terk was happy, which was rare nowadays, his eyes were brown. Today, though, they were like lumps of black tourmaline crystals.

Thendi loomed closer. Jori resisted the urge to squirm in his seat. He didn’t want to be a part of this. His worry wasn’t with the fighting, or even in the prospect of dying. It was in the killing. But he was a warrior and he would help his big brother gain back their father’s favor.

He and Terk had failed badly about two dozenals ago when their mission to the Depnaugh space station lost them their ship, crew, and the perantium device their father had wanted. Terk received the brunt of their punishment because he had been in charge. And while father blamed Terk, Terk blamed Jori. It was Jori, after all, who had manipulated the outcome.

Terk’s anger made him feel worse than anything his father did. They had been so close once. He missed it. If only things could be the way they used to be before Terk became Daiichi Prince.

To divert father’s wrath, Jori intentionally became more willful and disobedient. It worked. After Jori had received the worst beating of his life, Terk made up with him. It wasn’t the same as when they were younger, but it was enough. Now Jori stood ready to help his brother, who was helping their father kill people who didn’t deserve to be killed.

“I see two Alliance ships, My Lord,” Major Goro at the operations station said.

Jori’s father sat erect. “Zoom in.”

The viewscreen’s image lurched forward. Jori held his breath. It was a Class I Alliance Cruiser, just like the one he’d been on before. But was it the same one? He squinted his eyes, trying to see the identification numbers printed on the hull.

He let out his breath. It was a different Class I Cruiser. Not a warship, technically—the Alliance didn’t have warships—but the most advanced of all Alliance ships, with superior maneuverability and weapons that were nearly a match with the Tredon warships.

The viewscreen lurched again, this time on the other Alliance ship. Jori’s heart skipped a beat. It was the Odyssey, the one ship he was hoping not to see.

Chikusho/Shit! He should have known it would be here. The ship’s captain was no fool. Captain Arden knew what Jori’s father was after. He knew because of what happened after Depnaugh.

Jori’s extremities tingled as his blood went cold. He glanced at the bridge exit, wishing he could leave. The Odyssey was the last ship he wanted to fight. Commander Hapker, his friend, would be on it.

Well, not his friend anymore. Jori had betrayed him. And now Commander Hapker probably hated him.

Jori swallowed down the lump in his throat.

“There’s a third ship,” Major Goro said. “It’s too far to see.”

“We can assume it’s the same type,” his father said. “And we should assume there are more ships nearby. Do a full scan once shields are down.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Tell the Basilisk to get ready.” His father stepped up to the viewscreen and clasped his hands behind his back. They were within firing range of the closest Alliance cruiser and only moments away from the furthest.

Jori glanced at his console. His fingers twitched over the cloaking controls and awaited his father’s command. The pitter-patter of his heart sped up. He was about to betray Hapker again.

Expenses to Expect when You are Self-Publishing Your Novel

Posted in Publishing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Writing a novel is not easy. But if you’ve done it and you think it’s a worthwhile read, you have a new difficult task ahead of you – getting it published.

There are many ways to get your novel published. They are the traditional way, self-publishing, and numerous ways in between. This article is about the newest and easiest way to get published—self-publishing.

Although self-publishing is the easiest way to get published, it is the most difficult for getting your name out there because you also have to self-market. And although it is often relatively free to self-publish, if you truly want your work to get read and possibly even popular, you will need to be prepared for certain expenses.

  1. Writing Supplies – This is an expense you will have whether you self-publish or go the traditional route. Writing supplies can include a computer, software, notebooks, notecards, pencils, etc. Costs may vary depending on your wants and needs.
  2. Beta Readers – Beta readers are the most basic type of reviewers. They are your friends, family, or other informal readers. They can help you find plot holes and minor errors. They can tell you which characters, scenes, chapters, and other things they like most or dislike the most. Keep in mind that these types of reviewers are not likely to provide a professional opinion and some of their feedback may even be wrong. Also, their opinions may be biased. Family and friends will probably do this for free, but if you want more objective reviewers you may want to offer an incentive to people who are not friends or family. I’ve paid between $50 and $100 per beta reader.

    I found some decent beta readers on Simbi.com. On Simbi, I exchanged services rather than paid them. They read and critiqued my book and, in exchange, I offered to do some art work for them. If you can provide a special skill, maybe accounting, dieting coach, or pet training advice, for example, you can offer your skills in return for beta readers. Keep in mind that some of the people you solicit will not follow-through. But at least all you’ve lost is time.

  1. Content Editing Service – Unless you’ve already had training as a writer, a content editor is a must. They not only provide an objective review, they also provide a more detailed review. They can tell you exactly what you’re doing right as well as exactly what you’re doing wrong. They will understand more about whether your book will capture a reader’s interest and keep their interest. They will be able to find plot holes better. The will tell you how to build your characters better, your scenes, and so many other things.

    I can’t stress the importance of this enough. When I wrote the first draft of my sci-fi, I knew and beta readers knew it wasn’t as good as it could be. But we weren’t knowledgeable enough to know what could be done to fix it. My content editor saved me. I think my book is ten times better now than it was originally, thanks to her feedback. Her services cost me about $500. And just so I can have a second opinion on the rewrite, I’ve hired another content editor for about the same cost.

    One thing about a content editor, they will be bluntly honest about your book. It will be very difficult to hear. You will want to get defensive about their opinions. But don’t. Listen. Listen to everything they say. Write it down. Then take a step back and think about it for a week or two. If you can learn not to take their advice personally, you will become a much better writer.

  1. Line Editing Service – A line editor will look for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Nothing is more irritating than reading a self-published book and finding dozens and dozens of errors. Hiring a line editor is very important for self-publishers. I’ve recently paid about $500, but the person was in my writer’s group and was doing a favor. I believe the service can cost much more.
  2. Art – You will need a book cover for your book. And unless you are an artist, you will need to pay someone else to do it for you. Although I am an artist, my specialty is not in sci-fi art so I’ve paid an artist to do my book cover. It cost me about $100 this time but I’ve seen sci-fi artists charge as much as $500 or more. I’ve also found art on photo sites. These look deceptively cheap so be sure to read their guidelines. Most photo sites require you to pay $100 or more if you plan on using the photo or art as a book cover.
  3. Publishing – Although it is possible to get your book published for free on some sites, such as Create Space or through Amazon’s e-book publishing service, other places may charge you. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. So while Amazon and Create Space is free, your only exposure for selling your book is on Amazon’s website. Plus, some writers believe the Create Space publishing format is not all that great. Other publishing sites can charge $50 or more to set up your book so that it can be available for print on demand. And they may also charge you for an ISBN, which is something all books will need before you can sell them. An ISBN can cost about $100 or so, I believe.
  4. Marketing – Since you are self-publishing, you really need to do a lot of work in order to market your book. There are so many ways to market and so marketing costs may vary. Here are just a few marketing ideas:

    -When selling on Amazon, Smashwords, or other online book-selling websites, make sure you use good keywords and that your book description, or synopsis, is very appealing for would-be readers.
    -You can pay for online ads on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.
    -You can run your own blog and website, which may cost you in hosting services. If you have your own blog or website, you may need to spend a lot of time optimizing these sites so that they can be found ahead of other writers’ blogs and websites. Be careful about companies who say they can do this for you. They will charge you, but their practices do not always live up to their promises.
    -You can promote your book at book stores, which means you need to pay for a supply of books to keep on hand. Independently owned book stores may agree for you to do a book signing at their store.
    -Depending on your genre, you can pay for a booth at comicons, expo-shows, or local events. I have a friend who is rather successful at selling his books at comicons. But the booths are very expensive. Over time, he’s learned to supplement his book sale income with sales on t-shirts, art, mugs, and other things which have pictures of his book cover art on them.
    -You can try to find people to review your book and post their opinions on their own blog or website. This can backfire, though, if they give you a bad review. Some people will ask for small compensation for their time. Be careful with this because a paid review can come across as biased.

These are the expenses I’ve encountered in self-publishing so far. There could be others. I’ve heard of some people paying the self-publishing sites for additional services. This could be helpful for you, especially if you don’t know how to do something yourself. And despite your expenses, there is no guarantee that you’ll make the money back. Selling books is hard work. But at least you will have the good feeling of finally getting your novel published.

Creating a Plot Storyboard for your Novel

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2017 by Dawn Ross
Plot Storyboard

Plot Storyboard – Print this out for your use or use note cards or a writers’ software program like Scrivener.

Remember last week’s post? I gave two tips for helping you get started on writing that book you always wanted to write. One of those two was to create a plot storyboard. Why? Because in order for people to like your novel, you need to have a good plot. With a good plot, even an beginning writer can write a worthwhile story. A plot storyboard can help guide you in developing your plot. Here is a basic plot storyboard outline to help you plan your novel:

  1. Character in a normal world – Don’t make this part too long or boring. In the old days, writers took a lot of time to develop the characters and setting in the first chapter or two. But in today’s world, you want to grab the reader’s attention as soon as possible. I, personally, stick to about half a page and add other details to scenes and characters as the story progresses.
  2. Inciting incident – This is the incident that forces the character to act. For a romance, it could be him meeting a woman who captures his interest. For a mystery, it could be a murder of a friend. For an adventure, it could be a call to war from the authorities.
  3. Character must make a choice – Do they pursue the woman, try to solve the murder on their own, or honor the draft?
  4. Character begins his journey
  5. First complication arises – This is going to be the character’s first indication that the journey is not going to be as easy as he first thought.
  6. Complication grows
  7. A new and larger crisis emerges – This is going to be much larger than the first complication and will cause the character to stop and wonder whether he should go on. It may also send the character in a new direction. This complication will be approximately midway through your story.
  8. Complications increase and become more complex – Your character may want to turn back, but keeps moving forward.
  9. A breaking point complication arises – Your character is going to be at the lowest of the low. The task is going to seem complicated. Your character is going to want to give up. The situation looks hopeless and it’s your character’s darkest moment.
  10. The character decides to finish what he started – Your character needs to go against his natural inclinations and do something he never would have thought of himself doing before. Make sure that whatever it is that instigates him to move forward despite the new and more complicated situation that it’s not a deux ex machina. This is something that miraculously shows up just in the nick of time without any indication previously in the story that this might arise. A deux ex machina would be a sudden change of heart with no explanation or a friend who has had very little interaction in the story suddenly shows up with awesome skills to help.
  11. The drama is resolved – The drama is resolved, the antagonist is defeated, and the character has changed. For a romance, the character is now a person in love. For a mystery, perhaps the character has a darker view of humanity. For an adventure, the character has learned more about the world and more about himself.

This is just a basic storyboard outline. Your story can have more than three increasingly difficult complications, but at least three are needed. And your story can have smaller side-plots. Also, remember not to get too caught up in the planning process. It’s good to plan because it gives you a place to start. But too much planning can cause you to lose steam and you’ll never get to the fun process of writing your book.

Two Tips to Help You Start Writing a Book

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Ideas for Writing a Book

Sorry I’m late today. I took the kids on an unexpected trip. Here’s your article this week for what I believe are the two most helpful tips for getting started in writing that book you’ve always wanted to write:

Have you ever had a great idea for a project, but never really started it? This happens a lot when it comes to writing a book. It all starts with an idea, but then ends once you start thinking about all the complicated aspects that go into it. Some people can just sit down and write. But they either know enough about writing to know exactly what is needed to make a good story, or they’re just winging it and hoping a good story will turn out well on accident. You’re probably not the first type or you wouldn’t be here. 🙂 And if your the later type, you probably don’t want to simply just wing it on your great idea. So here are two tips to help you start writing a book.

Break Down Your Tasks

Writing a book can be a very daunting task. If you’ve done some research, you’re probably overwhelmed with all the things you need to do. So the first step in getting that books started is to stop thinking about all of it at once. Break the tasks down into pieces and do one piece at a time. If you’re not familiar with all the aspects of writing a book, this list could change. But at least your brain isn’t trying to process everything at once.

What I’ve done is created a folder on my computer. The main folder is the title of my book. When I open that folder, there are more folders. There are folders for writing tips, research resources, my character journals, publishing information, and more. Several documents are found in the writing tips folder. One document covers plotting tips, another for character development tips, one for tips on adding conflict, and so on. The documents contain things I’ve typed out or links to websites I’ve found that provided good information.

You don’t have to do yours on your computer. You can also create a binder. At first, your computer folders or binder will have very little information in them. But as you write, you’ll find other things to add. This process will help you grow and help you keep organized at the same time.

Plot Storyboard

Plot Storyboard

Create a Plot Storyboard

To write a good story, you MUST MUST MUST have a plot. If your good story idea is about someone who gets into a lot of adventures with no end in sight, your readers are going to get very bored. A well-organized plot can turn even the most amateur writers into good storytellers.

To create a good plot, you need to think about what your character wants to achieve by the end of the book. They have to really want it and you have to help the reader really want it for them too. Then you need to think of complications that your character encounters that make it difficult for him to reach his goals. And these complications have to escalate to a point where your character considers giving up.

The above image is something you can use. You can also use note cards or consider software such as Scrivener. I, personally, like note cards. Note cards allow me to create subplots that I can put in story sequence around the main plot. I’ve heard a lot of other writers praise Scrivener and other software programs. Find what works best for you.

Next week, I’ll provide a generic outline for a storyboard. In the meantime, feel free to comment on this post.

When Life Gets in the Way of Writing

Posted in About the Author with tags , , , , , , , on June 24, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Sometimes life gets in the way and sometimes one just need to take a step back. In this case, it’s a little of both.

In regards to life getting in the way, be assured that it’s nothing bad. As some of you may know, my husband and I foster kids. Generally, we only foster one at a time and one between the age of 6 and 12. A few months ago, though, we were talked into taking two teenagers, a brother and sister. We were told they were well-adjusted, well-mannered kids and this has turned out to be totally true. Still, parenting can be a busy job.

We are also in the process of adopting a two-year-old boy from China. The paperwork for this process has been a terrible headache. It’s not just a matter of filling out forms, but also a matter of gathering specific documents and making sure they are from the right sources, in the right format, with the correct information, with the right signatures, and with the right dates.

Eddie

I can’t show you pics of our foster kids, but here’s the boy we’re in the process of adopting. We’re naming him Edward, or Eddie for short.

I had to take a step back from my writing and from blogging for other reasons as well. To put it simply, I just needed a break so that my mind could recharge. Not too long ago, I told you how I received feedback from a content editor. She pointed out several core story problems that I needed to work on. Although it was hard to swallow the criticism, I knew she was right. But I wasn’t entirely sure how to fix the problems.

That was back in March, 2017. Rather than ponder the problems right off, I took a few weeks off and completely stepped back from my novel. I binged on Netflix and read a few fantasy and sci-fi novels.

When I felt I had wasted enough time, I dived back in. And when I dived back in, I devoted almost all of my free time to the novel itself. I didn’t blog.

So where do things stand now? We still have our two teenagers so I still devote time to them. The adoption process is pretty much done and now we’re just waiting for the government organizations to get organized. I’ve found the time to ponder the story problems and have come up with some great ways to fix them. And now I’m in the process of rewriting parts of the novel. In fact, I believe I’m almost done.

Now that I’m back to writing and nearly finished with the rewrite, I figure it’s time to get back to blogging. This post is a rather boring and personal post, but hopefully next week I’ll be able to post something more useful for you. Any topic in particular that you’d like me to cover? Writing tips? Publishing tips? Editing tips? Or perhaps you just want to read a part of the rewrite? Feel free to comment below.

How to Come Up With Sci-Fi Story Ideas

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2017 by Dawn Ross

My sci-fi story is more of a space opera than a hard-core sci-fi. For those who don’t know what those terms mean, a space opera is more about the characters and their lives in space than about any technical sciency. Hard-core sci-fi is quite the opposite. I’d like for my science fiction novels to be a little more sciency, but I’m having a tough time coming up with ideas. So I thought I’d do some research for idea generation and have come up with some ways I hope will help.

Firefly Cast of Characters

TV, Movies, & Books

What are your favorite movies, TV’s, and books? What were their plots? You shouldn’t steal someone else’s ideas, but ideas can generate from them. Actively think about the plot when you watch or read something. Then mediate on it later to see if it inspires your own ideas. I admit I got the idea of Jori from a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Suddenly Human”. Jori isn’t exactly like the boy in this episode. Nor is his situation the same. But some aspects follow along the same lines.

World-Building

Documentaries & Non-Fiction

You can get a lot of great ideas from reading a science magazine or non-fiction book. One book I’ve read, “World-Building” by Stephen L. Gillett has given me a few ideas. This book educates you on how things work in space and provides potential planet-scapes and such based on today’s knowledge. Documentaries, such as “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” can also give some great ideas.

Take Ten for Writers

Writing Exercises

Writing exercises are a great way to stimulate the imagination. In fact, this is something I need to do more often and something I plan on making a part of my regular writing routine. One book I’m planning on going through is called “Take Ten for Writers” by Bonnie Neubauer. Books like this give you a basis to start. For example, the first exercise in this book gives you a list of phrases that you can use to write a short story. The first phrase is “blindingly bright”. Next week, perhaps I will share the short story I wrote that contains this phrase.

Seems simple enough, but this book contains a variety of different exercises. One asks you to write a short story around a particular object, such as a Styrofoam cup. Another gives you a scenario, such as being abandoned by your date or being lost in the woods. Another wants you to write about an attribute without ever actually using the word or similar words. Even if none of these writing exercises mentioned here sound fun, there are many different exercises in this book. And there are lots of other books that help prompt writing exercises.

Brainstorm

I most often use brainstorming as a way to come up with book titles. But it’s great for coming up with story ideas as well. Simply write words related to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about a space ship, write down words like interstellar travel, speed of light, vessel, sub-space, warp drive, and so on. One or more of these words just might trigger an idea.

Write Randomly

This is the most common method I used to generate a story idea. I know my setting and I know my characters, so I simply start writing what I want to achieve and randomly write things I think might work. I don’t’ stop and think. I just write. And so when one idea comes while in the middle of writing another, I go with it and keep writing. This is the method I used to come up with the idea of the Chekrosians in book one of my sci-fi novel.

Computer-Generated

There are a number of apps that help writers generate story ideas. One of my favorites, and one I learned about through a fellow writer, is called Brainstormer. Brainstormer lets you spin three wheels, which line up to form one idea. I just now spun the wheel and here’s what it came up with – healing journey, Nazi, mansion. Did this trigger a short story idea for you? It certainly did for me.

There are websites you can visit as well. One I recently visited called SciFiIdeas.com randomly pulled up this story idea – “When a man is abducted by aliens, a clone is created to replace him. The story is told from the perspective of both the original and the clone.” Sounds fun!

Study People & Surroundings

The world might seem boring most of the time. But if you look carefully, you will probably see some quirky people or odd out-of-place things. Yesterday, I saw a short couple with a really large white dog and I began thinking about how those small people could possibly control such a large dog. I bet that dog eats more than those people! Maybe it’s an alien. I also saw a Star Wars kids baseball cap laying on the ground by a pond. Of course, the child could have just left it there after feeding the ducks. But what if he was pulled into the pond by a pond monster? (We have no alligators in our area, so pond monster would be much more realistic.) I started thinking about this kid and all the circumstances that led to him leaving this cap behind. It could make for a great mystery story.

Conclusion

There are many ways to generate ideas. It’s just a matter of actually implementing them. Tv’s, movies, and books are great, but don’t let yourself get too absorbed in them. And don’t just mediate on ideas. Write. To quote Yoda, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Do you have another way that helps you generate sci-fi story ideas?