NanoPrep /// Part 1 /// Prompt Me

6:00 AM


WELCOME TO MY NANOPREP SERIES!!! I'm so pumped for this, guys! I really am enjoying writing this so far, and I hope you will enjoy reading it!

The goal of this series is to get your creative juices running and the wheels of your glorious brains turning. The goal is to inspire you. Because some of us might not know what we're writing for nano. Some of us might have just a vague idea, but have a lot of stuff they need to figure out because they actually have no idea what's going on (that's me). And some insane people might know exactly what they're writing and what's going to happen, but they're already bored because WHERE IS THE FUN IN PLANNING EVERY LITTLE THING EVER?

Fear not! There is always something else to discover, some new idea waiting.

It is time for me to PROMPT YOU.

Part 1 of NanoPrep /// Prompt Me

What is an idea?

What is it about certain ideas that make a book? 

What triggers the wheels in your brain to turn, the creative juices to roar in the river of your mind, your hands to fly across the keyboard, mind and heart racing together as the thrill of the idea comes pouring from you?

Everyone is different. That's why our world is such an interesting place. Everyone is inspired by different things, and everyone's inspiration comes in a different way.

But not every idea you get is going to become a full-out story. It just doesn't work like that.

How do these ideas come? The ones that make a story? Where are they from?

And how do you get them?

Maybe you don't have a story idea for nano yet, and you're freaking out. Let me beg you not to. Ideas are all around you. Some will jump out at you as if God put them right into your lap. Some you have to fight for.


Notice things.

It is a notorious problem for writers to walk around in our own heads, not really paying attention to the world around us. I am sure guilty of that sometimes. But have you ever just stepped outside and breathed? 

Do it. Step outside. Don't even open your eyes. When I say "notice things" I don't just mean you need to look. You need to smell. You need to taste and feel. You need to listen. 

Step outside, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.

What do you smell? Maybe a bit of smoke is drifting on the wind. Maybe your neighbors are grilling out. Maybe there's a honeysuckle or rose bush by your house, and the wind carries the beautiful scent straight to you.

Notice things differently.

It's easy to see a tree ... and see a tree. It's easy to listen to your grandfather talk about his childhood, and just hear your grandfather talk about his childhood. It's so easy just to see and hear things as they appear, or as everyone else sees them.

But there's more there. There's so much more there. More than what can be seen. You walk outside and you see a tree. But maybe the tree is dying. (I know it's fall, but work with me here.) Study the leaves. Are they just turning new colors, the colors of autumn, or are they speckled with yellow and brown? Don't just hear your grandfather's story. Hear the past. He's opening a gateway to a different time, a different way of life. And you have the chance to hear it.

And that leads to the most important idea generator of all.

Ask questions. 

Let's go back to when you stepped outside. You might have smelled smoke. Was there a fire? Where? Is it a building, or maybe a tree? Did someone start it, or was it a mistake? An accident? If someone started it, why?

Your grandfather is telling you about his past. Why? Why's he telling you all this? Does he fear for you, thinking you might be about to face something and wanting to prepare you? Does he KNOW you're about to face something, and want to prepare you? How can he know this, and what exactly is he trying to prepare you for?

The trees are dying. (I, personally, like this idea.) All the trees are dying. But say it's the start of summer. The leaves are supposed to be blossoming from the buds that pleased your eyes all spring. But instead the buds are falling to the earth, unopened, and the branches are turning gray. Did someone poison the forest? Why? Did a person poison it, or did the earth itself? How could the earth poison it? Is there magic in the earth? How did it get there? Who put it there? Where did it come from?

I could go on and on. So many questions can be asked by just looking around the world that we live in. It's a marvelous place. Not all of them will generate a full-out book idea, but you can always get more smaller ideas to spice up the book you currently have (if you have one).

I know this is already getting pretty long (I could ramble on for a lot longer too) but I'm going to leave you with one more thing. At the MYWW back in June, I was in a small 11(ish) people workshop group with Jennifer Nielsen. (*screams*) She was walking us through this exercise while going over worldbuilding with us, but I loved the idea so much I thought I'd do it for other things too.

Like building a story idea.

Picture One: the light under the road


Look at this picture. Study it a bit. What's the first thing you notice? The light, probably. The light and the girl. You notice the light because it's dark outside, and you notice the girl because she's the only one there.

So why is she in the street, alone, at night, in her nightgown? What's she doing? Did someone call her to come look at the mysterious light in the ground, or did she notice it from her window? And what's that light about, anyway? Is it a portal to another place, another world? Or is there a room hidden under the asphalt? Maybe a lab of scientists? What if they were running a test, and she was actually the only one who could see the light ...?

Look. Notice. Ask questions. 

Picture Two: the monster's meal


Oooooh I like this one. It's dark. It's creepy. They look to be in a dead forest, at some kind of ruins. Who are the people bringing that bowl? Is it a sacrifice to this monster? Is the monster on their side, or against them? Why are they giving it food? Who all knows about it?

Look. Notice. Ask questions.

Picture Three: the coffin

What are they carrying? Did someone die? Is their body in the coffin, or is it a ruse? Maybe someone died, but they're trying to keep it a secret. There aren't many people, after all. Or maybe the person that died was a nobody. So no one cares about why he mysteriously passed. No one except his brother. Or his sister. Or his mother. What's their status? Do they work at the castle you see in the background, or do they own it? Why would they want to keep it a secret? Is the child a disgrace? Did someone in the household, someone with authority, kill him?

Look. Notice. Ask questions.

I could give you so many more pictures and ask so many more questions. If you still don't have a book idea, go look on Pinterest! Check out my Inspire Me board. I post all kinds of pictures like this on there.

Look. Notice. Ask questions. 

Hopefully this got your creative juices turning! If you didn't have a story before, I hope you might begin to get ideas now! Keep looking and noticing the world around you. Keep asking questions.

Also, if you're wanting to write a shiney new blurb for your nano page, check out this guest post I did on Katie's blog a while back! (It remains one of my favorite posts I've ever written. For some reason, I really like blurbs. XP)

Did you like this post? (please BE HONEST because I'm planning more like this for the rest of the month.) Did you come up with any ideas? Share in the comments! 


You Might Also Like


  1. *applauds* I DEFINITELY liked this post. <3 Plotting for me started out great and then turned into a puddle of nothingness. xD Because I plot every teeny detail of a scene, and that... is not a good idea. Because I won't have time to do that for the whole thing; instead I need to make a bullet point list of the overall events.

    BUT YOU HAVE GOT THE WHEELS OF MY MIND TURNING! *runs to check out your Pinterest board* *even though I already follow it*

    1. YAYYYYY!!!! Oh wow O.O That's ... a lot of plotting. WOW. I don't think I could do that! I'm so glad your brain wheels are turning YAYYYY!!! Also, I love your Pinterest *nods*

  2. Eep! I am so excited for this series to continue! This was a great post! I've plotted a lot of my NaNo story out, so I already have my idea and stuff, but those prompts were so cool!;)

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it! <3

  3. OH MY WORD I have never seen so much inspiration in one place. This totally got my wheels turning. THANK YOU HANNAH!! :D

    p.s. this is my first nano and i'm really excited but kind of scared so thanks for this series! ♥


    1. Awww you're so sweet! I'm glad it helped you! :D I'M SO EXCITED YOU WILL LOVE IT (HOPEFULLY) AND IT IS JUST FABULOUS AND SO WONDERFUL AND AHDSKJFALHSDKJFHSD. Keep me updated on how it goes for you! <3

  4. Love this! The Monster's Meal got my wheels turning (because OBVIOUSLY that is a mute Monster that protects the forest and normally passes on duties to an heir but now it's dying without an heir and PEOPLE ARE FREAKING OUT), but I'm trying NOT to think about more stories ideas, seeing as I already have two that are fighting in my head at the moment. I don't need more XD.

    ANYWAYS I have a feeling I'm going to love your NaNo prep series *nods*. SO EXCITED FOR NANO!

    ~ Savannah

    1. Heeeehehehe remember, you don't have to make the ideas into full out book ideas! You can always use them to add to your WIP! *sly smile* I AM SO EXCITED TOO AHJFKALSDHKJFSDAHLFKJAHSDLKJF. I can't wait to totally kill nano with you! <3

  5. o.o
    I JUST.

    especially the "monster's meal" and the coffin one. those just strike some creative wheels in me and want to create some sort of eerie story with that. so cooool. o.o


    // katie grace
    a writer's faith

    1. oooooh yassss THEY COULD BE COMBINED O.O Don't get me chasing plot bunnies now XP I NEED TO FOCUS SDAFJSDFAS. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! You are a lovely bean <3 <3 <3

  6. I'M SO INSPIRED TO TRY AND FINISH MY WIP NOW SO I CAN DO NANO *runs off to type oh wait nvm after school* XD


  7. I am so inspired to write now, you have no idea!

    1. Aw that makes me so happy, Skye! <3 Go write allll da things and be amazing!

  8. this definitely made me think. I should definitely pay more attention to my surroundings. And ask questions. More questions.

    1. *nods* Ask allll da questions yesyes. I'm glad it got you thinking! <3


Comments bring us happiness and warm fuzzies, so please share your thoughts! Stan and I want everyone to be welcome, so we ask that you be kind and courteous and use nice language.

Popular Posts