story hunting


Some days stories just happen.  They pop into your mind, nibble at your thoughts and then BAM! your pen is dancing all over the page.  And then there are the other days.  The days of nothingness – the days of blank paper and furious blinking.  Here are some moontrug tips to avoid those days:


1. Buy a notepad.  Take it with you everywhere you go.  Use it to record ANYTHING of interest: curious people, quirky facts, cool words, unusual stories, wonderful smells, funny names, things that make you laugh, things that make you cry, things that make the hairs on your arms stand on end…  At this stage, you’re a detective and you’re searching for an idea. It doesn’t matter how small this idea is or where it’s come from.  All that matters is whether you can breathe life into it and shape it into a story. Take a look at a page from David Almond’s notepad!

david almond notebook



2. Find out when the next full moon is (Click Here) then set your alarm for midnight that night.  Creep out of bed, open your curtains just a crack, and write.  The world is silver and full of moonbeams on a full moon at midnight.  There are stories lurking in the shadows…



grafitti3. Take a word for a walk… Say what?! Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman, does it – and so does moontrug. Click here to find out more.





up4. Think of an animal or a person then turn it on its head – readers always love a quirky twist!

–       a spider who is scared of the dark

–       a giraffe who has never liked heights

–       a tiger who is a vegetarian

–       a baby who is cleverer than an adult

For inspiration on some amazing animals, visit the best photography exhibition EVER: the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. Runs from 18th October 2013 – 23rd March 2014. Click here for more details.


rory5. Buy some Story Cubes – a little like dice but with amazing pictures on: Buy Them Here (£9.99. Also available at Waterstones and on amazon). Go into your bedroom and shut the door.  Turn any music off then sit very still in the silence.  Throw the dice.  Look at the pictures.  Where does the story take you?


My Name is Mina final6. Read My Name is Mina and see how she does it






eskkkk7. Find some photographs of people with unusual lifestyles: the Mongolian Kazakhs who hunt using golden eagles, the child litter-pickers of Bangladesh, the Colombian children who zip-wire to school above the jungle, the wolf-hunting Inuits of Alaska…  The magazines that come with the weekend newspapers usually have some great photos, as do the National Geographic magazines.  Or you could pop along to a photography museum near you – the Saatchi Gallery in London is always good


seaaaaaaaaaaaa8. Find a painting (either in your house, at a friend’s or in a museum).  Imagine stepping into the painting.  Where do you go?  Who do you meet?  Or if you don’t fancy the jump inside, pull the figures or the landscape out and get writing



mirror9. Think of an object in your house or garden that you could ‘get into’ or ‘pass through’: a cupboard, a well, a mirror, a split tree, a garden shed.  Imagine a world beyond or behind that object. For moontrug tips on stepping into magical worlds, click here.



sunrisessssss10. Find out what time the sun rises where you are: Click Here For Sunrise Times.  Find a place where you know you will be able to see the sunrise (from a window in your house or even better – outside in the garden or on top of a hill) then set your alarm.  Give yourself plenty of time to get to your chosen place before the rest of the world wakes up – and then watch.  See the sun come up, watch the colours change, listen to the silence and the stillness; you’ll find your story there


cliff11. Think of an opening line to a book and see where the story takes you.  Here are a few to get you started:
–       I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
–       With trembling hands, I turned the door knob.
–       None of us meant it to turn out like it did.
–       It was raining the day Mr Calder disappeared.


tee house12. Climb into an unusual place and write from there: high up in a tree; in the bath tub; behind the curtains; under a table.  When you’re somewhere different you see things differently, too.  You’ll be surprised how many new ideas pop into your head!



nookshelf13. Read as much as you can.  Some of your best ideas will be sparked by other brilliant authors.  So never be without a book because as Lemony Snicket once said, ‘Wicked people never have time for reading.  It’s one of the reasons for their wickedness.



brave14. Be bold.






f pen15. And above all, write.  As much as you can.  Every day.  Wherever you are.  Make your story happen.  So go forth professional Story Hunter – and bring back something good…

‘In dreams we enter a world that’s entirely our own’ (J K Rowling, author)

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  1. Pingback: Paper worlds and sinister fairies... | moontrug

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