Not sure where to start?
I know how daunting a blank page can be when it comes to starting a story. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Tip one: make your writing come alive
The more detail you put into your writing, and the more you base it on a tiny grain of truth, the more it comes alive in your reader’s head. The example I use for this tip is from How to Train Your Dragon. If I say to you, ‘Gobber has a big red beard’, you can see the image in your head a bit, but not very well. If I say that, ‘Gobber has a beard like exploding fireworks’, or, ‘Gobber has a beard like a hedgehog struck by lightning’, you can see the image much more clearly.
An extension to this is to think about your senses when you’re describing. If you use words that encourage your reader to smell, hear, taste, see or touch, then your story is more compelling.
Tip two: research is a boring word for something really exciting
If you’re stuck for where to start a story, then surprising facts about the real world can give you loads of ideas. For example, I read somewhere that Vikings trained cats for battle because sword-fighting an opponent is very difficult if a cat is attacking your head! This gave me an idea that I then put in one of my books (How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury).
Many of my dragons in How to Train Your Dragon are based on extraordinary fish. For example, the Monstrous Strangulator Dragon is transparent, like a barrel-eye fish.
For The Wizards of Once, I did a huge amount of reading about Ancient Britain. The Iron Warrior Fort is the same shape as an Iron Age Hill Fort, and the ancient forest Kingley Vale in Sussex gave me the setting for the Wildwood. Both history and the natural world are full of unbelievable facts and questions that you can base stories on.