Do you want to write imaginative stories? Well, did you have any crazy childhood fantasies when you were a kid? I had a fantasy about catching Santa Claus when I was a kid. I tapped into those memories to create my picture book, Ninja Clause!
Whether you acted out your childhood fantasies or not, you might find story gold by digging through those memories.
Memories of Triumph or Defeat
Did you attempt to make your childhood fantasies real? How did that turn out? Were you successful? Did you get in trouble? Do you remember the emotions you felt?
Sometimes, childhood plans are part of a group effort. Were you the planner or a helper? When things went wrong, who got blamed for it?
Teachers and parents aren’t perfect about resolving situations fairly. Sometimes, the wrong person gets the blame or the praise, and it can be hard for some kids to speak up and right a situation. Did the fallout affect your relationship with anyone? How did that make you feel?
Write down your memories—from your perspective as a child if you can. Try to capture the important moments. Think about how you can make the story more imaginative, keeping the real emotions that you felt.
Imaginative Picture Books
Once you’ve captured some of those memories, I want you to think about some of the picture books that you love. See if you can find a pile of fun, imaginative picture books to use as mentor texts. Then you can do master studies to see what makes them work.
I like Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. It’s actually similar to another childhood fantasy of mine, but it’s so imaginative. I mean, what if you dug a hole to find a diamond, and you kept missing it? It’s really silly and fun. How many kids have wondered what they’d find or where they might end up if they could just keep digging? Those kids are going to love this book.
Making Your Story Fun
You’ve written down your memories and studied some fun picture books. Do you know your story’s It-factor? What would make a child want to pick up your book?
This is a good time to capture the words and images in your head by sketching and journaling. Explore possibilities through story mapping. Have fun with it. Start pulling all of the pieces together, and you’ll find your story.
Here’s a YouTube video of a workshop where I talk about using childhood fantasies to write imaginative stories.