Where do story ideas come from?

It’s one of the most popular questions writers get asked. With much the same answers too … story inspirations come from everywhere! What you see, hear, smell, taste. From memories. From books. From your heart. From words and images. It’s the same for writing school plays.

I rarely set out to write a play about a particular topic … actually, I did once. It was for Pearson Books and the topic was Recycle, Reuse, Reduce.

My effort didn’t pass the muster … my characters, Paper, Glass, Plastic and a scruffy teddy bear, all talking from inside a rubbish bin, did go a bit beyond what Pearson was asking for. These inanimate objects took on a life of their own! No wonder it was rejected. But Pearson did accept another of my plays, THE BLACKOUT BOX. Illustrated by the brilliant Tracie Grimwood.

THE SCHOOL MAGAZINE is my favourite magazine for kids. And they’re Australian made. I have 19 stories and plays published with them, and lots are being re-published. Must write some new ones!

Playwrighting requires a step further than short stories … you think in dialogue and actions, not descriptions. There must be a conflict to solve. Make sure your characters are all individuals not clones of each other. And use a playwrighting template.

Added tip – I like to use the Greek Chorus effect so every child gets to take part, even those who are too shy to star. It should be lots of fun!!

Here is one of my very favourite School Magazine plays. As usual, I had no idea what I was going to produce until I did it. It all began with an image. A weird, thought-provoking image I tore out of a photographic magazine in the doctor’s surgery (yeah, I know I shouldn’t have, but I had to!)

The unusual and brilliant photographic art of Alex Kisilevich.

Over a lifetime, I’ve read a million fairy-tales, legends, myths and folktales. Of course, my brain headed that way.

A protagonist came into my head … a princess who thought she was a horse, and be damned to anyone in the kingdom who thought she was nuts. And THE PRINCESS WHO THOUGHT SHE WAS A HORSE was born. I began to write.

SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG: As a special treat to anyone subscribing/or already subscribed, I’ve included the play to enjoy. I would love to see kids acting in it.

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The gorgeous illustrations are by Jenny Tan. From the School Magazine’s Orbit, Oct 2017.

It is copyrighted to me as the author. If you want to download from the School Magazine to photocopy for classroom use, you must seek permission from The School Magazine, and use your Education Licence – Copyright Agency.

Thank you for your co-operation … authors rely on copyright royalties and photocopy fees to exist.

One thought on “Where do story ideas come from?

  1. I love it, Sheryl, and I’m sure the children love reading and performing the play too. What fun. I always enjoyed The Emperor’s New Clothes and this is a great innovation on it – totally original of course. The character reminds me of one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory too – her name escapes me at the moment.
    Congratulations, this is a wonderful story. I also like your use of the chorus so the whole class can be involved.

    Liked by 1 person

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