Reach for the Unique! Unusual places and situations for children’s story characters.
An important part of writing for children is brainstorming. This is when your writer’s notebook comes in handy. You could have one page that lists nothing but strange places for your character to be at. For example, on a deserted island, at the top of a tower, or in a refugee camp.
By placing your child-character in a setting one usually doesn’t associate with children of your culture, your muse can develop unique ideas and actions for your story character. This entices your reader to learn more because we all love to read about the unusual aspects of life – those we haven’t ourselves experienced.
Brainstorm to choose unusual settings for your story
Here’s a list of twenty unusual settings for a children’s story. Feel free to use any of these, or make your own list:
|In a submarine
In a cave or gold mine
On a rollercoaster
Lost in a labrynth
At the pyramids
On top of a mountain
Inside a book or magazine
On another planet
In an ice cream truck
In a canoe or rowboat
|In a factory
At a photography class
In a restaurant kitchen
In a hollow tree
In a hot air balloon
On the Golden Gate Bridge
At a soup kitchen for the homeless
At an animal testing facility
Under a rock with a frog
In a flood or forest fire
Brainstorm to find an unusual situation for your children’s story
Now that you’ve comfortably located your child character in a very strange place, it is time to give him or her a difficult and unusual situation to resolve. Often, the location will suggest a situation.
For example, a flood will make your child scramble for safety. But what if you threw in a few extra challenges?
How about if it is Mom’s birthday? What happens if a special gift, which your character saved for six months to buy, gets drenched, or it floats away in a flood? What will your protagonist do to show Mom how much she is loved?
Or, on top of a mountain, what is the child doing there? Is he or she lost in the woods, having climbed the mountain to get a better view of possible cities nearby to head for? Or is he or she part of a mountain climbing expedition? Is this the youngest person ever to have climbed Mount Everest?
How can your story become more complicated? Perhaps an adult has a serious accident and needs medical help. Or our character comes upon a baby deer with a broken leg. Or the mountain top is already occupied by a monster. Or there’s an old forest fire lookout station with a mountain man living in it, who hasn’t seen civilization in thirty years.
All these ideas take children out of their bedroom, their family home, their school rooms, and the neighborhood park. They make children confront situations they’ve never expected to be in. They tell children that although these things never happened to them, they could happen, and we humans are often called upon to do the unexpected, to stretch our imaginations, and to head in new directions.
Unusual settings and situations for children’s stories will surprise and please agents and editors. They love to see new and different ideas – stories that haven’t been done by anyone else because they are so unusual.
Don’t be afraid to write something totally weird and wacky. In the world of writing stories for children, weird and wacky ideas are good.