I’m fascinated by unusual homes. Whenever I see an unusual house/cottage/barge or whatever I wonder who lives there, what the history of the house is and all other sorts of stuff. I was wandering around the ruins of Ludlow Castle one day and couldn’t help wondering what life was like then. What would it be like to live in a castle? I started imagining all the characters that could live there, the Lord and Lady, their servants, knights perhaps, visitors that came to stay. Each of these characters have a story to tell. Putting a character in a setting is a ploy I often use both in my own writing and in my writing workshops.
One of the most popular workshops I run in schools is based on a picture of an unusual home. I put the picture on a board and ask the children who they think lives in it. Then we start bulding up a story. I often used pictures from this fantastic internet site which features weird and wonderful homes around the world: http://www.roxanneardary.com/blog/unusual-architecture-from-around-the-world/
I trawl through it and select a picture for my workshop. Here are two of the pictures I’ve used:
This a home in Vietnam. Imagine living in that! When the children make up a story about who lives there it’s usually a witch or a zombie or a princess who’s been captured by a witch.
I’ve no idea where this home is but the children at Alveston CofE Primary School in Stratford made up a fantastic story based around it being a diving school where a mad headmaster made the pupils dive for pearls. We then turned that into a performance for the parents to watch as part of the Stratford Literary Festival.
Next time you're stuck for a story try finding a picture of an unusual home and ask yourself who lives there? Thinking about your home and the character who lives in it might help you come up with a great story idea.