We’ve previously explored catching and evaluating the idea. The third stage of the writer’s process is to grow the story idea.

To recap:

Catching the idea

Evaluating the idea

Growing the idea

First draft


Reading the draft

Revision and self editing

Critique group feedback

Rewriting or recreating

More revision

<<GO TO Critique group feedback, if needed>>

Final manuscript

If you have not already done so, write your story down idea. This gives you a focus for your story.

Characters and Conflicts

Most stories are about characters and their conflicts. Ask yourself the following questions and jot down your first thoughts.

The List

What does your protagonist want or need?

What is different or unusual about the protagonist that makes her or him stand out?

How does the protagonist handle conflict and change?

What strong emotions might come up in the story?

How does the protagonist deal with strong emotions? Love? Hate? Happiness? Sadness? Loneliness? Grief? Jealously? Joy?

What or who is preventing the protagonist from getting what he or she wants or needs?

What character(s) will support the protagonist?

Define the conflict. What would make the situation worse for the protagonist?

Will the protagonist get what she or he wants at the end of the story?

How will the protagonist change or grow by the end of the story?

Repeat the same questions for your antagonist and other characters.

Other Questions to Consider

Where does the story take place?

When does the story take place?

What is the genre of your story? What element(s) fit in this genre?

What POV might you decide to use for this story?

Who is telling the story? (The POV character)

How might the story be different from another character’s POV?

What mood might you want to create with your story?

What might you foreshadow in order to add tension and to keep the reader reading?

What are possible themes for your story?

At a high level, what are some events that might take place?

What tone might work for this story? Humorous? Dark? Cheeky? Serious? Spiritual?

At a high level, how might your story end?

At a high level, how might your story begin?

When thinking about your story idea, it might work better for some to consider the ending BEFORE the beginning. With a possible end in sight, this might open up new ideas and directions for your story, as well as give you something to work TOWARD. Try this and see if it works for you.

After your first try at these questions, wait a day or two and revisit them. Add or take away as you see fit. Trying to answer questions you might have skipped over the first time around. Add details where you can. Repeat this process as needed, until you feel ready to write the draft.

SIDE NOTE: Many, including myself, often freewrite a story based on an idea without asking these questions. What I do is use these questions after writing the rough draft to make sure that I have the elements in place to craft a good story. Try it both ways to see what works best for your writer’s process.


Come up with your own list of questions that might be helpful when growing your idea into a story.

Question for today: How do you move from idea to story? What questions are helpful to you when you move from idea to thinking of the story? Did you think of questions not on these lists? Share them if you wish.

Best Wishes,