Your blank page is about to get colorful. All you need to start writing a story is a Who + What + Why Not.
A Who is who you are going to write about-- your main character. (Creative writing bonus points: the official term for your main character is the "protagonist".)
A Who can be anything- a person, a magical creature, an object, an animal. Think of your favorite book or your favorite movie. If you ever think your options are limited, think of animated movies. People have written stories about cars, toys, tea pots, wizards, blobs of goo. Look around the room for some inspiration. See a toy, a thing, a pet? You can write a story about any of them when you combine a Who with a What and a Why Not.
Examples of a "Who":
A Person: Grandpa, a boy, a girl, super stinkboy, a diabolical baby, a police officer, a scientist
An Animal or Insect: Tiger, hippo, spider, shark, ladybug, starfish, puppy, ant eater
A Fantasy Creature: Wizard, unicorn, fairy, dragon, ghost, elf, alien, a misunderstood Cracken
An Object: Tea pot, car, toy, guitar, pair of socks, super hero cape, a child's homework
Get more character ideas from our creative writing prompts.
A What is what the main character (the Who) wants. Every story plot starts with someone wanting something. What would your Who want?
It could be to do something, to be something, or to overcome an obstacle. What your character wants can be an every day sort of thing (like he wants to make a friend), or something outrageous (like he wants to rule the world). Here's a hint, outrageous story ideas can be really fun. For example, a hippo who wants to be a ballerina or a snowman who wants to overcome his fear of snowflakes makes for a funny story.
Examples of a "What":
Wants to become something: A dancer, a famous chef, a super hero, an ice cream billionaire, queen of the hill
Wants to do something: Win a race, bake a cake, take over the world, invent something, find buried treasure, be the first to travel to a new planet
Wants to overcome an obstacle: Conquer a fear of snowflakes, cross Lake Slime-a-lot, escape from a dragon's belly, be the first female Sumo wrestler
Need some story ideas? Try our creative writing prompts for kids.
A Why Not? is why the main character (the Who) of the story can't have what he wants (the What). This is the start of your story plot-- your character wants something but can't get it.
You've probably heard about rising action and falling action. Every story plot needs some action to be interesting. If your character gets what he wants right away, that's not much of a story. So write in some obstacles for him so the action can increase (rise) while he's trying to get what he wants.
The Why Not can be another character (a bad guy) an external obstacle (something is in his way) or an internal obstacle (a fear or inability).
(More creative writing bonus points: If it's a person or creature that keeps your character from getting what he wants, that person / creature is called the "antagonist".)
Examples of "Why Not":
Another character is trying to stop your Who: An evil ladybug, a dragon, a band of Lord of the Rings reenactors... anything from the Who list will do.
An external obstacle is in the way: A pit of slime, loses his magic wand, car won't start, a runaway train, gets trapped in a castle turret, minion revolution
An internal obstacle is in the way: Character doesn't know how, is clumsy, is scared, has an attack of the hiccups
Need some inspiration? Try our creative writing prompts for kids.
Putting it all together: Who + What + Why Not = A Fun Story
Once you have a Who (main character) and What + Why Not (a plot) you have a basic outline for a story.
Here are a few quick examples to show you how the story writing formula works. For more examples, see our creative writing prompts for kids.
Who + What + Why Not Ideas
An alien + wants to be the first from his planet to travel to Earth, + but his minions sabotage his on-board navigation.
A finicky wizard wants to escape from a dragon's belly, but a pool of slime is in the way.
A child's homework just wants to relax in his child's backpack, but a puppy won't leave it alone.
A unicorn wants to win a skiing race but she's afraid of snowflakes.
Creative writing step-by-step guide
This creative writing how to guide is available as a printable free creative writing lesson plan. Also, try our worksheets, posters, and other creative writing exercises.