Storybook Intervention – How To Come Up With A Story Idea

I’ve read Green Eggs and Ham a million times and Go To Bed Fred a zillion times. That’s what parents do, right?

But at about around time two hundred fifty five we go a little crazy. A part of our brain starts to check out and our eyes glaze over, while still managing to read the same story.

Our kids adore those books and the predictable patterns. They need to hear our voices telling the words that take them on an imaginary adventure.

If you are a parent or grandparent you’ve probably wondered if you were going to start talking Sam I Am talk at the PTO meeting, or invite the Pastor to brush his teeth while visiting for dinner. I haven’t. Yet.

All of those hours reading books can turn out to be a great thing when your child grows up with the love of reading, but how about your own writing? Can time spent reading storybooks pay off in your writing career?

You bet! The next time you sit down to start a story and have absolutely no idea where to begin, try the following strategy.

Story Book Intervention:

*Pick A Favorite Children’s Book or Story. Think of a story you loved as a child and write it on a piece of paper.

*Identify The Main Characters In The Story Book. Write down the names of the key characters of the story, ones that might be POV characters or pivotal characters in the book.

*Identify The Character’s Role In The Story. Write down the role they play. For example, the villain, hero, heroine, etc.

*Write Down The Basic Story In One Or Two Sentences. Very simply state the goal of the characters and the basic plot of the book.

*Use This Story Model To Create A Novel Story Idea. Plug your own characters into this story and build from it using the basic story line and character roles above.

Story Book Intervention The Three Little Pigs Style:

*Book: The Three Little Pigs

*Main Characters:  3 Pigs and the wolf

*Character’s Roles In The Book:  3 Pigs – the hero/heroines that are related by friendship or family ties.

The Wolf – The Villain of the story who tries to destroy the pigs houses and devour them.

*Basic Story Line: The wolf is hungry so he goes to the pigs houses and tries to destroy them, but they cling to each other and survive when the final pig’s house proves to be stronger than the wolf.

*A Novel Story Idea:  Three sisters are trying to hold on to their family farm. A neighboring rancher knows a secret, that the oldest sister’s husband died in the blizzard last year. If the banker finds out that there isn’t a man to bring in the money to pay the mortgage, he will foreclose on them.

The three sisters each cling to each other and try to keep from losing their farm.  They try to do everything on their own, but realize they are not strong enough. They try to talk to the neighboring rancher to see if he will buy some of their land so they can pay the mortgage, but they discover the only valuable part of the land is what they need to grow crops and survive.

Finally, the sisters decide that they have no choice, but to tell the banker and ask for an extension. When they do this, they discover the truth has set them free. The oldest sister’s husband had deposited some money in the bank over the years for a crisis. This money pays the mortgage.


As you can see, this is a very basic method for coming up with a story idea. There are lots of story books that can give us a basic plot idea. Try it out and see what you think.

My favorite story book from childhood is Gift Bear For The King. What’s your favorite? 


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

12 thoughts on “Storybook Intervention – How To Come Up With A Story Idea

  1. ahamin says:

    Thanks for these tips… my personal method is finding a way to let my subconscious speaks… by listening to music or jogging… best ideas comes from the subconscious, since our conscious is too busy with our reality

  2. Pat Trainum says:

    Okay, The Tree Little Pigs is not my favorite story from childhood, but it’s the one I had to read a gagillian times to one of the grandsons. And on number gagillian and one, I’d had it. So I read: There were three little pigs and their names were Inky, Binky and Blotto…funny thing, he loved my changes, so from then on for another gagillion times I read him about Inky, Binky and Blotto.

    • Michelle Lim says:

      LOL! The Three Little Pigs weren’t a favorite in my house either, but I figured everyone knew the story. I ready, “Giraffe’s Can’t Dance” and “Clickity Clack” A ton of times.

      Fun Story about your grandson. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Beth K. Vogt says:

    This is just plain ol’ fun — and extremely creative, Michelle!

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Beth! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. I have many favorites, but probably one of the books that top the list is Tomie dePaola’s The Clown of God. It made a deep impression on me as a child, even though I loathed unhappy endings, and the story has stayed with me through the years.

  6. Melissa Tagg says:

    Fun stuff, Michelle. I’m still “young” enough in my writing pursuits not to have run out of ideas yet. But I can see how this would so totally work if a person was staring at a blank page, desperate to find a story but stuck.

    Umm…I don’t even know what my favorite little kid/picture book was as a kid. I moved to chapter books at a ridiculously young age and was hooked on Nancy Drew.

  7. dtopliff says:

    That was a fun exercise. Probably my favorite was the Uncle Remus stories because the rabbit kept thinking up bright wily ways to get the best of the fox (not you’re predictable outcome).

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