The idea, first of all!

Imagination and inspiration are just a means to achieve the most essential tool of the writer: the idea. It is an intuition which encompasses the whole story. It's made of images, thoughts, feelings. It's something personal and subjective, the way wee see the story, which may also change during the writing.

Why is the idea so important? Because, without the idea, there is no story. Writing means having something to say to the reader. If there isn't anything that interests us, why should the reader be interested? Therefore, we must have an idea, but it must also be good.  Think how many millions of books are there. Why should readers choose yours? Why is it so special? Because of the idea. Because there's no other story like yours. Because it's unique and unrepeatable, remember? So what we need is an original and unconventional idea, that the reader cannot resist. 

Image you have a blank sheet. Write down, in the middle of the page, just a word or a short phrase. Your idea. Then draw some arrows departing from it. And on each of these arrows write an event, a scene, a place that inspires you - it's a kind of brainstorming. Everything is focused on the original idea. And each arrow represents a new core, new secondary idea. Stop only when you're satisfied with the scheme you drew. Now you have the structure of your story.

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