by Tara Lazar

OK, I don’t mean this one…

Or even this one…

I’m talking about this ice, captured by Melissa Sheperd at the Highlights Foundation in November:

We awoke Saturday at Highlights to a frosty morning. Fuzzy shards of ice covered every surface, the world blurred by the cold. Melissa, a former professional photographer, skipped breakfast to document that amazing, glittery morning. (How she had the willpower to skip Chef Amanda’s scrumptious breakfast, I’ll never know.)

Now, I bet you think today’s Storystorm suggestion is to get outside and appreciate nature in all its splendor, and that would be an inspiring way to kick off this year. But, sorry, no.

I want to focus on those frost crystals.

This kind of frost is called “radiation frost” or “hoarfrost” and forms when objects become colder than the air surrounding them. Warm air rises and cool air falls, settling into valleys, like it descended upon us that morning. But instead of producing dew, the condensation forms as ice crystals on surfaces that have retained moisture, like a wood table or grass and leaves.

If you look closely at the hoarfrost, you see part of the hexagonal structure of ice crystals—the pointed top is half a hexagon and it keeps repeating, interlocking, to create a tree-like structure.

It builds upon itself.

This is the basic core of Storystorm—ideas will continue to build from other ideas.

One idea alone may not be an entire story concept, but add it to another idea and they interlock and grow.

Many of you have participated in past years and have lists of ideas lurking in notebooks and .doc files. Even if you haven’t participated before, as a writer and creative, you have ideas stashed everywhere, be it on the back of envelopes, scrawled across torn napkins, or rattling around in that gloriously jumbled brain of yours.

Today, I challenge you to take a past idea and build upon it.

If the idea was a character, fill that character with more life. What do they love? What will stop them from getting it?

If the idea was a problem, what are the stakes? What disaster will befall your character if the problem isn’t sorted?

If the idea was an opening line, what is the closing line?

Take what you have and flesh it out. Remember you can do this all month long. Ideally, I hope you will continue this practice as long as you’re a writer.

And if you have to go outside into the beautiful, bitter cold to figure it out, that’s fine, too. Just bring your camera along.


Tara Lazar is your host for Storystorm 2020. Her next book is THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN, illustrated by Vivienne To, releasing January 7th from HarperCollins.

Join Tara and an exceptional picture book faculty at The Highlights Foundation for the Storystorm 2020 Retreat, March 5-8. More details here.

Tara is giving away a fiction picture book critique.

Write one comment below to enter.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below.

Good luck!