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Friday, June 24, 2011

Novel Ideas With Roald Dahl (plus a CONTEST ALERT)

You never know when a lovely idea is going to flit suddenly into your mind, but by golly, when it does come along, you grab it with both hands and hang on to it tight.

The trick is to write it down at once.

~From Roald Dahl’s personal essay, Lucky Break

To Roald Dahl, the most important and difficult thing about writing fiction was to find the plot. With that in mind, he kept an old school exercise book labeled Short Stories. Just about every page (both sides) was covered with ideas for a children’s book—some good, some not so good.

He says that every story he’s ever written has started out as a very short note to himself.

For example:

What about a chocolate factory that makes marvelous and fantastic things—with a crazy man running it?

A man acquires the ability to see through playing cards. He makes millions at casinos.

A story about Mr. Fox who has a whole network of underground tunnels. They lead to all the shops in the village. At night he goes up through the floorboards and helps himself.

Moral of the post? Get a notebook, keep it with you, scratch down every idea that comes to mind, no matter how silly or loosely-based. You might just end up with a winner!

By the way, for those of you who didn't see the announcement in April, Roald Dahl excerpts will be printed on millions of U.K. cereal boxes (click HERE for the GalleyCat article). Quite amusing, especially considering this line from one of his novels (can you guess which one?):

“Do you know what breakfast cereal is made of? It’s made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!”

*CONTEST ALERT!! Krista V. is hosting an agent contest at Mother. Write. Repeat. First 20 entries on Monday, June, 27 will be accepted. Genres are YA, Adult Paranormal Romance, Adult Urban Fantasy. Click HERE for details!

Happy Friday & Happy Writing!


  1. Ah, what inspiration from a master writer! Thanks :-) Off to pick out a special notebook for just this kind of thing...

  2. Great advice! I have a Moleskine notebook that I use just for ideas and dreams and stuff like that.

    And I think the quote is from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Maybe. :P

  3. Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors of all time. Reassuring to know that he struggled with plot ideas!

  4. Yay! I knew that Roald and I had something in common! Our notebooks!

    George's Marvelous Medicine? Or maybe The Witches?

    Sorry, just not sure about the quote, except for the fact that it is 100% TRUE!!


  5. What a fantastic idea. I used to jot down all my ideas on index cards, but I haven't done that in ages. Given Dahl's success, maybe I should start again!

  6. One of my MOST favorite writers. Though I don't fancy all the new covers, that have popped up at the bookshops.

    That said, I wish you a yummy day and an oogie boogie, weekend.

  7. I haven't even heard of those other two Roald Dahl books! Shame on me. I've always suspected there were dark secrets about breakfast cereal, though.

  8. Brilliant. And he's so right. The key is to write it down!

  9. Roald Dahl is one of my favorites. I was reading James and the Giant Peach to one of my daughters when she was young, and I love the story so much, I decided I wanted to write children's stories, too. He's such an inspiration!

  10. My hubby is a fan of "Fantastic Mr Fox". I lost count of how many times he's watched the movie. lol.
    I have two notebooks so far, and I use them to keep my shiny ideas prisoner until I have the time to free them.

  11. I'm not always good about writing ideas down. Who knows if I've lost a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

    Thanks for the contest link. I'm probably too late, but I'll check it out.

  12. hello there hotty. I love your blogs. R.D. is one of my favorites of all time. how are you btw. i am going to send you an email. thanks for all your info here and your help and optimism (sp?) where is my spell checker!

  13. What good advice. I didn't used to write my ideas down but now I do!