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Craft Book Spotlight: Story Sparks

Need help finding and cultivating story ideas for fiction? This week's spotlight is for you.

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Story Sparks by Denise Jaden
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“Great ideas can spark like a fire – once they catch, they can burst fast and furiously like full heat in a matter of seconds,” writes Denise Jaden in the first chapter of Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas & Turning Them Into Compelling Fiction. Or, ideas can grow like a garden – slow and consistent, sprouts breaking ground, plants rising and standing on their own, and bringing forth fruit in the proper season with plenty of watering and sunshine. Sometimes ideas can steep like a cup of tea – as you stir them, you can actually see the ideas getting stronger, deeper, and more pungent.”

All writers know a variety of idea types abound, from the messy concepts that show themselves in a fever dream to the neat and precise solutions that seem to arrive in our heads fully formed. Writing, at its purest core, is simply an expression of ideas. But how can writers find these ideas on a regular basis?

And once we find them, what on earth are we supposed to do with them?

These are the questions Jaden, a YA novelist who drafted her debut in just 21 days for National Novel Writing Month, tries to answer in Story Sparks. The book is divided into five sections that range from kindling initial inspiration to building healthy idea-finding habits for the future. 

Part 1 is S.P.A.R.K., Jaden’s acronym for capturing “the anatomy of story idea development:” Seek, Passion, Allies, Resonence, and Kinetic Energy.” 


Part 2 focuses heavily on brainstorming, “an encyclopedia of methods for stirring up more ideas.”

Part 3, “Developing the Flame,” shows writers how to turn their newfound ideas into successful projects.

Part 4 discusses the aforementioned positive habits for future idea-finding, while Part 5 contains a variety of lists designed for future reference, including collections of motives, popular character names, and story themes. 

“What do cars and airplanes and buildings and toothpaste and fashion and the internet and cell phones and Moby Dick all have in common? They were sparked by ideas. Our society and human existence, everything we do and use, reflects our creativity,” Jaden writes in the introduction.

“This book’s aim is to equip you with skills and methods to uncover your best ideas and grow them to fruition.”


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