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The Writer's Idea Book: How to Develop Great Ideas for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, & Screenplays

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Since its publication ten years ago, The Writer's Idea Book has become one of the most popular books for writers. The 'secret' to its success is the number of idea-generating exercises. In this new edition, every chapter will feature new exercises, text, and examples/models. Some of the updated text will be drawn from Heffron's original sequel to the first edition, The Wri Since its publication ten years ago, The Writer's Idea Book has become one of the most popular books for writers. The 'secret' to its success is the number of idea-generating exercises. In this new edition, every chapter will feature new exercises, text, and examples/models. Some of the updated text will be drawn from Heffron's original sequel to the first edition, The Writer's Idea Workshop (now out of print), and some will be original to this edition. In addition, a section called 'Questions to Consider' will be added at the end of each chapter to generate further ideas, insights, and, most importantly, writing.


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Since its publication ten years ago, The Writer's Idea Book has become one of the most popular books for writers. The 'secret' to its success is the number of idea-generating exercises. In this new edition, every chapter will feature new exercises, text, and examples/models. Some of the updated text will be drawn from Heffron's original sequel to the first edition, The Wri Since its publication ten years ago, The Writer's Idea Book has become one of the most popular books for writers. The 'secret' to its success is the number of idea-generating exercises. In this new edition, every chapter will feature new exercises, text, and examples/models. Some of the updated text will be drawn from Heffron's original sequel to the first edition, The Writer's Idea Workshop (now out of print), and some will be original to this edition. In addition, a section called 'Questions to Consider' will be added at the end of each chapter to generate further ideas, insights, and, most importantly, writing.

30 review for The Writer's Idea Book: How to Develop Great Ideas for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, & Screenplays

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Deal

    A literal gold mine of ideas, prompts and exercises to get a writer going. I use many of these in my own creative writing class. Granted not all of these will be to every writer's taste but there is enough in here for every writing to get a lot out of this book. Recommend it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    April

    So, at the end of October, I spontaneously decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, which is the National Novel Writing Month that usually happens in November. Hence my decision to dive into this idea book that I just happened to already have on my Nook account, downloaded from who knows when, because I knew I'd want to try to get back into writing one day. I'm planning to refer to this book throughout my writing process, since I have not seriously written in such a long time. This book definitely ha So, at the end of October, I spontaneously decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, which is the National Novel Writing Month that usually happens in November. Hence my decision to dive into this idea book that I just happened to already have on my Nook account, downloaded from who knows when, because I knew I'd want to try to get back into writing one day. I'm planning to refer to this book throughout my writing process, since I have not seriously written in such a long time. This book definitely has plenty of prompts to spark that writing flame. I cannot deny that. However, many of them don't apply to my specific situation, or I just can't remember enough, such as when the prompt suggests to write about something that happened at a specific point in your past. Especially since the memories of my early 20s always tend to be a bit of a blur to my mind. But the chapter that has resonated with me the most is Chapter 17: Minding Other People's Business. It talks about paying attention to the world around you, and letting those simple observations spark ideas for writing, such as a conversation that you've overheard at an airport or in a restaurant. I already do this, whenever I'm out in public, because of a writing teacher I had that advised us to use the things you hear people say, as a potential beginning to a story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and it has so many helpful tips and tricks to overcome the struggles of the writing process. I felt inspired throughout the journey of reading it, which is exactly what I needed to get out of it. And now I feel like I'm better prepared to dive right into my writing again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    I stumbled upon this book years ago when I was looking for a last minute game for my writing group. From the title it was not what I expected, but that, in the end, is what I like the most about this book. Jack Heffron’s book has more prompts in it than I have seen in any other writing book. It’s really just a collection of small blurbs and then about five to ten prompts, sometimes just a pull page of prompts, and yes, I am still working my way through them. So many good prompts and so little ti I stumbled upon this book years ago when I was looking for a last minute game for my writing group. From the title it was not what I expected, but that, in the end, is what I like the most about this book. Jack Heffron’s book has more prompts in it than I have seen in any other writing book. It’s really just a collection of small blurbs and then about five to ten prompts, sometimes just a pull page of prompts, and yes, I am still working my way through them. So many good prompts and so little time! If you’re expecting this book to be filled with random silly little ideas that will give you a brilliant idea for that brilliant novel that will launch you to success, don’t waste your time. That book doesn’t exist. This book will have you look at yourself and your own experiences A LOT. It will have you figure out what you value, what you want as a writer and what you want to write. You will have a lot of fun, learn a lot about yourself, and yes, become a better writer. Just don’t expect this book to hold the key to Schenecktady. What is wonderful about this book though is that it lets you figure out what kind of writer you want to be without spelling it out for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lexie

    This book is perfect for writers looking to become more creative and polished. There are prompts to help get ideas on the page and can help if you're in a rut when it comes to new ideas. There are prompts to help revise previous writings you've done by changing point of view or voice, etc. Exercises to help you find the best way to convey your story or idea without being cliche or unoriginal. Really this book is an excellent way to improve your skill as a writer, the prompts/exercises are numero This book is perfect for writers looking to become more creative and polished. There are prompts to help get ideas on the page and can help if you're in a rut when it comes to new ideas. There are prompts to help revise previous writings you've done by changing point of view or voice, etc. Exercises to help you find the best way to convey your story or idea without being cliche or unoriginal. Really this book is an excellent way to improve your skill as a writer, the prompts/exercises are numerous and in depth, and the advice and ideas the author offers are manageable and felt encouraging. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking to improve their writing or get a jumpstart when you feel in a rut. (I wouldn't recommend this book if you are looking for journal prompts or just other things to write about, the material here isn't structured in that way.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Don Incognito

    I found this book's writing prompts only moderately useful, because they involve many topics that I don't find directly relevant to story ideas, such as why one doesn't want to write or what one's beliefs on some issue are. They're as good as anything in forcing one to write, about anything; and then the mind has a way of popping out thoughts that may prove unexpectedly relevant or useful to one's story, even directly involved in it. But...I'd rather move on and look at more interesting writing p I found this book's writing prompts only moderately useful, because they involve many topics that I don't find directly relevant to story ideas, such as why one doesn't want to write or what one's beliefs on some issue are. They're as good as anything in forcing one to write, about anything; and then the mind has a way of popping out thoughts that may prove unexpectedly relevant or useful to one's story, even directly involved in it. But...I'd rather move on and look at more interesting writing prompts. Not recommended if the reader would like to write fiction, in which case I enthusiastically recommend The Writer's Idea Thesaurus, a book of much more interesting and offbeat prompts.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kym Gamble

    This is a fantastic book! I will be using it for years I'm sure! Each chapter starts out with a description of what you'll be working with whether it is the basics of making sure you are writing every day or more complex topics as character development. Then throughout the chapter you get different prompts and exercizes to work through to help work on those topics. I found the backstories to be very interesting and the exercizes to be fun and ones that can be done many times.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dilbag Singh

    This will give you how to capture an idea. How little things about your day to day life can trigger a concept. It shows you the practice of how to capture the character, his her motivation and how to see your present world in a different way so as create new stories.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Angell Johnson

    Writing prompt books have never interested me, but I thought to give this one a try. I think because I’m 7 years late reading this book, everything seems old and cliche to me. I did find the exercises useful. But when working with writing prompts, it feels like I’m writing what everybody else is writing, which is meaningless. On the back cover blurb, the author does tell you that it’s up to you to put your own spin on the ideas provided. Because everyone has ideas, it’s hard to write something th Writing prompt books have never interested me, but I thought to give this one a try. I think because I’m 7 years late reading this book, everything seems old and cliche to me. I did find the exercises useful. But when working with writing prompts, it feels like I’m writing what everybody else is writing, which is meaningless. On the back cover blurb, the author does tell you that it’s up to you to put your own spin on the ideas provided. Because everyone has ideas, it’s hard to write something that’s not already published. This book is good for those who only want to practice writing things they have no intentions on ever publishing. Anything to stimulate minds and help writers polish their skills is a great desktop companion. I, however am not short on ideas. I have more ideas than I have room to contain them. But executing them to an attentive audience is my biggest challenge. I did not find the ideas useful. But I got a good brain and hand workout, so I’m not complaining. Three stars because most of the information I already knew or didn’t find helpful.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cooper

    If you're looking for a book filled with a wide range of writing prompts, this is the book. From creating ideas to exploring ideas to evaluating ideas, the prompts expanded my writing depth and forced (allowed?) me to turn my characters world upside down to better understand my characters origins. PROMPT: Longings usually are associated with the past, the desire to reunite with a time or place or person who is no longer around. Create a characters who longs for someone or something in her past but If you're looking for a book filled with a wide range of writing prompts, this is the book. From creating ideas to exploring ideas to evaluating ideas, the prompts expanded my writing depth and forced (allowed?) me to turn my characters world upside down to better understand my characters origins. PROMPT: Longings usually are associated with the past, the desire to reunite with a time or place or person who is no longer around. Create a characters who longs for someone or something in her past but show the reader (rather than telling her) that the character's longing never will be fulfilled because they never existed in the way the character remembers them. (p.104)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lorrie

    I struggled to get through this book. While it might have been good for writing prompts (which I wasn't really looking for), as far as actual information, I found it pretty sparse. Especially when you consider that there wasn't a lot of examples given for some of the direction. I wish there was a how-to approach with it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mikaela Robertson

    This book opened my mind to what treasures were already inside me. It's the first writing prompt book I've read and I loved it. I found it incredibly helpful and motivating for improving and growing my writing skills.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I really enjoyed this book of over 800 writing prompts because the prompts help you, not only to develop as a writer, but to develop your ideas when you may not know how to get started. As I progressed through the book, the first few chapters of prompts were very general - they helped me to get some interesting story ideas onto the page. Continuing on, the book continued to encourage more and more specific prompts that had to do with molding the characters you'd created earlier, or editing some I really enjoyed this book of over 800 writing prompts because the prompts help you, not only to develop as a writer, but to develop your ideas when you may not know how to get started. As I progressed through the book, the first few chapters of prompts were very general - they helped me to get some interesting story ideas onto the page. Continuing on, the book continued to encourage more and more specific prompts that had to do with molding the characters you'd created earlier, or editing some work that you've written and weren't sure how to move the piece along. Therefore, this book did not feel to me like a collection of "ways to get ideas of what to write" but rather inspired me to write, gave me some ideas of things to write about, and then helped me to hone in on these ideas and how to better execute them on the page. This book was very helpful and I'll likely refer back to it often when I'm writing in any sort of style. I highly recommend it to writers who are just beginning, or writers who are suffering from writer's block and need help fleshing out the details of their own piece!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Victory Wong

    I'm reading sections out of this book to help inspire me to write and push myself back into the writing realm and I believe it's doing a good job. It's my first book like this, so it maybe seem obvious to some people some of the stuff in the begining. There is a begining part about different stresses that writers have on them to not write-- like feeling we have other more important responsibilities, or writing/thinking as "The Author" rather than just letting the creative juices flow. So far I q I'm reading sections out of this book to help inspire me to write and push myself back into the writing realm and I believe it's doing a good job. It's my first book like this, so it maybe seem obvious to some people some of the stuff in the begining. There is a begining part about different stresses that writers have on them to not write-- like feeling we have other more important responsibilities, or writing/thinking as "The Author" rather than just letting the creative juices flow. So far I quite like it although the "ideas" section, so far that hasn't left me with a lot of urge to write...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Many good prompts, but they are not the true value of this book. The book's tone keeps me writing when I want to stop. It's about "quit your whining and just WRITE for god's sakes." And it makes me keep writing and writing even when I want to stop because it's all crap flowing onto the paper, and nobody will ever want to read this crud, and how in the world am I going to convince anyone I'm a writer, and on and on. I keep this book on my desk as inspiration for those critical sessions of debilit Many good prompts, but they are not the true value of this book. The book's tone keeps me writing when I want to stop. It's about "quit your whining and just WRITE for god's sakes." And it makes me keep writing and writing even when I want to stop because it's all crap flowing onto the paper, and nobody will ever want to read this crud, and how in the world am I going to convince anyone I'm a writer, and on and on. I keep this book on my desk as inspiration for those critical sessions of debilitating self-doubt. It might do the same for you.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy Saunders

    One of my favorite prompt books. Heffron offers a little coaching but this book is all about the writing. I've found it very helpful in tapping into my own life, past and present, for traits and emotions I can project onto my characters. It makes you dig, even into things that hurt, and as a result my characters and stories now go deeper. It's excellent for getting a handle on raw emotions but also for jump starting ideas.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    So I didn't actually finish this one. It was due back at the library. But while I had it, it was great. I'd certainly check it out again. I picked it up for some, you know, 'ideas', of which there were plenty. In some ways it's 'just another writing' book. Good ideas and plenty of excercises to do that are helpful. As far as advice, etc. it's nothing I haven't heard before. Just keep writing!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Browning

    I picked up this book because it's full of writing prompts, though only a portion are fiction-specific. There were some good tidbits of advice sprinkled throughout, but some of the book's encouraging nature became tired after a while. This book is one I would recommend to writers who feel they suffer from so-called writer's block (I personally feel that's a lame excuse for laziness), or to writers in the early stages of the craft or who are in need encouragement.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa M

    Heffron provides "Prompts," i.e. writing exercises, to jump-start your creativity in various areas, such as exploring ideas to start with and what to do when when your project goes flat and you need to up the stakes. The latter is what I found to be particularly helpful, and why I gave the book 4*s. I'm not usually into books that involve writing exercises, but this one got me thinking outside the box I was in.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angeli

    It's rare for a "self-help" kind of book to really make an impact with me. They all seem so cookie-cutter, filled with the same endless diatribes and platitudes. Within the first few pages, Jack Heffron's book grabbed me by the horns and left me shaking with my eyed filled with tears. Here, at last, was someone who understood the writers' struggle. I recommend it heartily to any and all of my writerly friends.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    This book is really great for just getting some ideas rolling around in your head that you can turn around and do something with. A couple of times, the prompts were confusing and the reading got stale. Though this was only a few instances, otherwise his tone was light and encouraging and the prompts were really unique.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ruric Amhari

    Excellent book packed with ideas to get the creative thoughts going. Twenty nine chapters in 4 main sections: bending and stretching, exploring, finding form, assessing and developing. Each chapter has a brief introduction and is then packed with prompts giving writers and aspiring writers plenty of opportuity to noodle around and explore different ideas.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shari

    I love the writing prompts in this book. I have been keeping a journal off and on for 25 years. I'm planning on writing down some of Neil great stories and I even got a voice recorder app to record them so that when I write them down, I don't miss out on details. I love to write true stories. I'm not very good at writing fiction.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Juan Maestas

    I've had this book for many years- twelve, actually. It's been a great source to kindle ideas to start writing when you're feeling creatively blocked. It's accessible to a degree, but nothing I'd want to read cover-to-cover (though I feel that wasn't the author's intent to begin with, which makes it feel slightly dodgy).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Even though you can't really "read" this book, it is a good find for anyone hoping to find inspiration for writing or for help getting unstuck when writing. There are a lot of good prompts in this book and also a lot of new ways at looking at things to help any writer. Probably the best I've seen.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    I just stared this last night and so far it's talking about one of the most important things any writer can do, getting your butt in the chair. Good advice so far. Stop thinking about it and just get your butt in the chair.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elisa George

    This is an excellent resource for prompts. This book contains well thought out ideas in a variety of categories...quite enough to keep any writer busy for quite some time. I have read through all the prompts and have already written many.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jane O'Reilly

    Some interesting ideas in this for anyone looking for writing exercises, but best bought in paperback - it's the sort of book you will want to dip in and out of. I ploughed through it on kindle, and it was a long, hard slog.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    So many ideas!! The prompts are spectacular, and the rest is written in such a witty tone it's just plain fun to read. I will be getting my own copy of this book so that I can go through more of the prompts.

  29. 4 out of 5

    K.

    This book has so many great ideas! It's ideal for writers, but is also a great resource for teachers who might be looking to help students with short story ideas. Definitely something you'll want to add to your bookcase!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I read part of it, but it seems more like a reference than something I would read straight through. It requires patience and may help if you're totally lost in your writing AND if you don't have a deadline.

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