Plot Ideas for Children's Stories
'Where do you get your ideas? How do you find your plots?' are questions frequently asked of authors. Some people imagine there is a little-known shop called Plots 'R' Us, but the answer is, if you are alert and have your mind open, there are story ideas all around you waiting to be used.
The most basic plot of all which can be used in any number of ways is:
- Somebody wants something.
- They can't have it.
- They strive to get it.
- They either get it or learn to do without it.
How to Find Plot Ideas
- Start with a concept, an idea that encapsulates a story in a sentence. Alice in Wonderland reduced to its concept is: A girl falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a strange world.
- An overheard snatch of conversation can hold the germ of a story. 'If you think I'm going to do what she says, you're dafter that I thought!' or ' Marion never liked James because of his ears.'
- A line from a song can suggest a plot. For instance, 'Everyone's Gone to the Moon' might be the germ of a science fiction story.
- What do children want that they can't have? Think of a story that gives it to them. Children love the idea of wish fulfilment.
- If you read a story and are dissatisfied with the way it turns out, use this as a starting point. Write a new second half, change the names and the setting.
- Looking at ordinary things from an unusual angle can be useful. Suppose every thousandth bicycle made had magic powers . . . Any inanimate object endowed with supernatural powers can trigger a story.
- Themes can be your starting point: sayings like, 'Be careful what you wish for, you may get it,' or 'Every action has a consequence.' Fantasy or reality can be used to illustrate such themes.
- Answer the child's question - 'Where do lost things go?' as in Mary Norton's The Borrowers and Hans Andersen's Tin Soldier.