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Storystorm 2021 Day 14: Lauren Kerstein Follows the Yellow Brick Road

by Lauren Kerstein

We’re off to see the Wizard! The Wizard of story ideas…

Often, when I begin exploring an idea, my journey leads to LOTS of new ideas. Grab a notebook and let’s go! Let me show you what I mean.


Let’s start with a concrete idea.

Here’s one: Squirrel loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but his brother is allergic so he can’t eat them. Ever!


Let’s create a word bank of words we might use in this story:


Let’s pick a few of the words we added to our word bank and follow that lovely Yellow Brick Road. What other ideas might we discover?


Let’s celebrate. We just generated a whole list of new ideas by following the Yellow Brick Road. WOO HOO!


Now, spend some time fleshing out a few of those ideas before you lose them. You can write in your notebook or on blank paper. You can use the Storystorm template I created. Or you can do both. I fill out as much of my template as I can. Then, if I’m really inspired by an idea, I write notes, notes, and more notes in a journal dedicated to this new book idea.

ADDED BONUS: The other thing to keep in mind is that following the Yellow Brick Road not only leads to new ideas, it can also help you add layers to your manuscript. And as we all know, layers are a very good thing. In my picture book HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press/ February 2, 2021), I incorporated many different layers: foster care, finding your strengths, and emotion regulation/coping strategies. These layers clicked into place as I followed the Yellow Brick Road and really explored the heart of Calvin’s story. I can’t wait for you to meet him!

So, GO FORTH and conquer, and follow the Yellow Brick Road. You just never know where it might lead!

Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two dragons…er, daughters, and their rescue dog. Lauren is the author of the Rosie the Dragon and Charlie picture book series (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions). Her latest picture book, HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) moves into shelves February 2, 2021. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12×12 and SCBWI. Her writing goals are simple. Read voraciously. Embrace feedback. Grow each day. Work hard. Be passionate. Write courageously. Touch children’s hearts. You can visit her at LaurenKerstein.net, and follow her on Twitter @LaurenKerstein, Instagram @LaurenKerstein and Facebook.

Lauren is giving away a picture book critique and a copy of HOME FOR A WHILE.

Two separate winners will be randomly chosen.

Leave one comment below to enter.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below.

Source: Writing Competition

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