I had a great opportunity to speak at a local middle school on Friday. It was a great experience and though I was the one “leading” the class, I learned something too. It was fun having the kids think outside the box and hearing their ideas about different topics. I touched on the 3 basic avenues I use to help me write. 1) Choose a 1-word topic, 2) Free-write in bubble format or a journal entry about that topic, 3) Write 5 next steps for the characters. I think the key with #3 is that if you think of a next step that is completely out of character for that person, still write it down. That’s one thing about this exercise. It is best to keep writing and not critique your writing. That way you can get your creativity on paper where you can actually see it and come back to it later. If you, in the future, want to use that “out of character” next step for a different story, you will already have it written down and can use it accordingly.