Stop thinking, start talking

If you want to make up stories for your kids, there are two things you need to understand:

We all have an inner editor who points out every nitpicky flaw in our stories: plot holes, weak characters, inconsistencies, etc. If you want to make up a story on the spot, you have learn to ignore your editor. Donít think about about it. Just start talking. And keep talking. Donít pause to ponder what your character should do, just have them do something. Anything!

Sure, youíll make up stories that you would be ashamed to put on paper, but trust me, your kid will love to hear them. And with practice, youíll love to tell them.

Making up stories on the fly is fun. Your kids love to hear you tell stories. So if you can ignore the inner editor, itís a win-win situation.

Advanced tip: you can retell stories and improve them the second time around. Keep retelling a story until you love it. Then write it down.

Story Skeleton

When I make up a story on the spot, I use the Universal Story Skeleton:

When something happens, Protagonist pursues a goal. But will she succeed when Antagonist provides opposition?

I learned this from a writing book or conference, I forget, but it is perfect for organizing your thoughts as you make up a story. It is also a great way to arrange your elevator pitch or quickly summarize your story.

For example, Iíll ask my daughter what she wants to hear about. She might say ďa broken egg.Ē Iíll start telling her the boilerplate (Once upon a timeÖ), and while Iím doing that with one part of my brain, Iíll use the rest to decide where to go next. In this case, Nerni is trying to hatch an egg she found, but will she succeed when she finds a crack? Youíll have to wait until I get around to writing that one up to find out.