Guest Post: Grammarly’s Nikolas Baron

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I was going to review one of my author must have’s, but when Gramarly’s Nikolas Baron emailed me, asking to guest post on my blog, how could I say no? If you are anything like me, you’ve struggled with how to start that novel burning in your mind. Well, good thing Nikolas, here, has some fabulous prompts! Yay, prompts! Thank you for stopping by today, Nikolas. The floor is yours!

Writing Prompts to Start a Novel With

Writing prompts can cure writer’s block, teach you more about your character, enrich your setting, or become the start of your novel. Creative writing classes live on writing prompts, and professors try to encourage their young writers to think outside of the box. But with so many writing prompts littering the pages of the Internet, which ones actually help produce results? Which ones can help you start your novel and get your writing gears going? I’ve talked to many writers over the years, and each writer has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to prompts. With the list I’ve created, I’ve attempted to compile the prompts that led many writers to develop full-fledged novels.

1)    My problem: “I have a bit of a problem. I like to ____.” This is a great way to start a novel. Most novels center around solving a character’s issues either with themselves or with their outside world. This sentence helps you think more about your character’s way of life, morals, and general attitude. How does this problem shape their daily life? How did it shape their childhood? How does it prevent them from or push them towards their future?

2)    Who Am I?: Write a full-length paragraph about five characters you think you’d have in your story. What makes them memorable? What makes them who they are? What defining decisions would they have to make? What makes them complex? Once you have completed these five paragraphs, post them on a board near where you write and use them as guidelines to reference. It will make the story process easier and remind you why your characters are the way they are.

3)    Add 1 Cup of Magic: Something magical or supernatural has happened to your main character. What is it? How does it affect them? How does it change or not change their life? How do they deal with it? I never wrote about supernatural happenings until I tried this prompt. I ended up writing one of my favorite stories, and really challenged myself to think outside of the normal realms I write in. It gave me a chance to use my creativity to its fullest to build a magical world for my character.

4)    You Took That From Me! Think about someone whose work has been stolen — a classic case of plagiarism. Your character had worked for years on this story and was about to publish it when someone else scooped him or her. How did the plagiarist manage to get the story from your character? Did he or she know your character when they both were younger? Is the plagiarist’s character the person your character’s story is about? Did he or she steal the story from your writer’s computer? The prompt leads down tons of different avenues. Plagiarism affects real writers every day, so why not see how your character would react?

5)    It’s Your Last ____: Think about what you would do if it were your last day, week, month, year, birthday, swim meet, college class, whatever. Take that idea and see what your character would do with it next. Would they feel accomplished, sad, heartbroken, happy, ecstatic, pressured? It could be an item. The very last apple. The very last lake. The very last woman on earth. There are tons of possibilities and opportunities to start a novel with this prompt.

When using writing prompts, it’s always a good idea to try something outside your comfort zone. You may have thought you were a mystery writer when in fact you’re better at, and love writing, science fiction. You may have thought that children’s stories were not complex enough, but after trying a few prompts, they seem almost as complex as adult novels. Writing prompts, no matter how simple they seem, can easily start a novel. Additionally, using writing prompts may lead to plagiarism, so it’s crucial to check your work for plagiarism. A resource I like to use is Grammarly because it does not only check my work for plagiarism, but it also helps me improve my writing, check for grammar and punctuation mistakes, and identify my most common errors. These writing prompts can assist in jumpstarting your writing career and aligning your creative stars to help you create an interesting and fleshed-out novel.

About Nikolas Baron

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

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