On getting ideas for stories

Because of popular request, I’m updating this blog that I had posted on my sherylgwyther4kids blog earlier this year. Thank you, Rachna Chhabria, my author friend from Bangalore, India for reminding me about it. Glad your writing students over there enjoyed my Double Trouble Game, Rachna.

Story ideas can pop into your head from lots of places: from almost forgotten memories, from over-heard conversations, from newspaper articles, from funny things you see people do, from history and even from the landscape itself. Or sometimes ideas can come from the wonderful world of WORDS.

Most of the time, writing a story can be just one plain, hard slog so if I’m looking for something to vary my day, I play a writing game/challenge. I call it the DOUBLE TROUBLE GAME. In this game, you have to pick two nouns from a list of unlikely ‘room-mates’ – naming words that do not go together. Like:


You get the idea? Now imagine the combination of two and ask yourself What if?

Like: What if you won a goldfish at the local fair – the ugliest, puniest goldfish you had ever seen. But you have to take it home because you feel sorry for it? What if that goldfish had the ability to sense an imminent earthquake? Yes, an earthquake-sensitive goldfish called Eric … all from the unlikely room-mates called GOLDFISH and EARTHQUAKE.

Before I wrote my book, Princess Clown, I chose two words from my DOUBLE TROUBLE list and asked, What if?
What if there was a princess who was different? What if she loved clowning and to make people laugh? What if she was the heir to the throne? What if she was in trouble because the last thing she wanted to be was a royal princess? What if her clowning tricks went terribly wrong? And before I could say ABCADABRA and ALLIBALOO, out popped Princess Belle and a story.

A first chapter book for 6-7 year-olds

Lots of other people have recognised how clever words can be, especially when you combine them together. Famous musicians do it all the time. Here are some of the most recognised names of rock bands words that are ‘unlikely room-mates’.

COLDPLAY (well, it could be 2 words)

Have fun using my Double Trouble Game! Write and tell me if you were able to come up with something that helped make your story happen! The only limit is your imagination.

If you would like to let others know about my Double Trouble Game List (and Triple Trouble Game), make sure  you credit my name and link to it as the author.

P.S. Want an extra challenge? Try three from my DOUBLE TROUBLE word list! Then it will be TRIPLE TROUBLE :)

Princess Clown is available from Blake Publishing, (ISBN 9781741646481)
And from educational supply retail outlets nationally.

7 thoughts on “On getting ideas for stories

  1. Thanks Sheryl, for sharing this wonderful game. Not only did my students enjoy it, even all the readers of my blog fell in love with it. It was a super hit with everyone.

    Its a wonderful way to unleash our creativity. All the best.


  2. Hi Sheryl – I’m always looking for fun new writing games to tell kids about and this one looks like a winner. Over Christmas I think I might even take the Triple Trouble Challenge.


  3. Funnily enough, that was how I came up with Anchovy Circus, another Blake Ed book. Did you tell me about this exercise, Sheryl?


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