by Lauren Kerstein

We’re off to see the Wizard! The Wizard of story ideas…

Often, when I begin exploring an idea, my journey leads to LOTS of new ideas. Grab a notebook and let’s go! Let me show you what I mean.


Let’s start with a concrete idea.

Here’s one: Squirrel loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but his brother is allergic so he can’t eat them. Ever!


Let’s create a word bank of words we might use in this story:


Let’s pick a few of the words we added to our word bank and follow that lovely Yellow Brick Road. What other ideas might we discover?


Let’s celebrate. We just generated a whole list of new ideas by following the Yellow Brick Road. WOO HOO!


Now, spend some time fleshing out a few of those ideas before you lose them. You can write in your notebook or on blank paper. You can use the Storystorm template I created. Or you can do both. I fill out as much of my template as I can. Then, if I’m really inspired by an idea, I write notes, notes, and more notes in a journal dedicated to this new book idea.

ADDED BONUS: The other thing to keep in mind is that following the Yellow Brick Road not only leads to new ideas, it can also help you add layers to your manuscript. And as we all know, layers are a very good thing. In my picture book HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press/ February 2, 2021), I incorporated many different layers: foster care, finding your strengths, and emotion regulation/coping strategies. These layers clicked into place as I followed the Yellow Brick Road and really explored the heart of Calvin’s story. I can’t wait for you to meet him!

So, GO FORTH and conquer, and follow the Yellow Brick Road. You just never know where it might lead!

Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two dragons…er, daughters, and their rescue dog. Lauren is the author of the Rosie the Dragon and Charlie picture book series (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions). Her latest picture book, HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) moves into shelves February 2, 2021. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12×12 and SCBWI. Her writing goals are simple. Read voraciously. Embrace feedback. Grow each day. Work hard. Be passionate. Write courageously. Touch children’s hearts. You can visit her at, and follow her on Twitter @LaurenKerstein, Instagram @LaurenKerstein and Facebook.

Lauren is giving away a picture book critique and a copy of HOME FOR A WHILE.

Two separate winners will be randomly chosen.

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This is such a great idea for building upon story Sparks! Thank you!!!

Great advice, Lauren! The word bank and building off of other ideas like bricks so really practical!

Thank you Lauren. I like the list idea. Many more books can come from that. Such a big help. Congratulations on your books. Looking forward to reading them.

Your template looks like it will be really helpful! Thank you!

Thank you so much for this post! I love your template idea and how to add layers to a story!

Wow! Very valuable information. Im printing out for my file. Thank you!

I love the word bank suggestion. Doing this not only fleshes out a story idea but often generates new ideas for other stories. Thanks for your post.

Congrats Lauren! Now I’m singing “Follow follow follow follow….!” Love HOME FOR A WHILE!

Wow! Great comments. Very valuable information. Saving these comments!

This message exercise is fab! And as you say, it has the potential to help one to build layers into their story. Thanks, Lauren!

Great ideas and thanks for the link to the templates!

I really never use a formal idea formation process, but I feel like following these steps (maybe with my son?) could be really fun! Thanks for sharing.

I like your yellow brick road analogy! Congratulations on your new book!

Neat post! Thank you for the practical story-generating advice. Trying it now!

Thanks, Lauren, for your brainstorming technique and also for the templates on your website. So valuable!!

I LOVE this process! I think this will work for me. 😊

so much gold on this yellow brick road of ideas! thanks for sharing!

Love the word bank idea! Thanks Lauren!

Creative idea. Thanks for sharing.

It’s always interesting and helpful to see an accomplished picture book author’s story creation process. Thanks so much for sharing yours, Lauren!

I love your word bank idea! I’m always looking for idea that will help with adding layers.

Thanks for your suggestions using word bank and follow the yellow brick road…it turned on a light bulb. Kathy

Thanks for this. I love the word bank wonder and following the yellow brick road.

Thank you Lauren for this post- I love the idea of following an idea down all sorts of paths, and being open to inviting a whole other menagerie of ideas. Wonderful.

Thank you for sharing your step-by-step process and guiding us down the yellow brick road! I’m looking forward to increasing the number of my ideas with this approach.

Thanks Lauren-I’m following The Yellow Brick Road!

Congratulations on your book, Lauren! I like this process.
Gail Hartman

Great tips! I especially appreciate the advice about adding layers to our stories. Thanks for sharing!

Wow! What a fabulous post, Lauren! Totally resonated with me. I especially like the way that you use your approach to add layers to your stories. Thank you!!
Congratulations on your newest PB. Looking forward to reading it.

Great strategy and helpful tips. Thank you!

Fleshing out ideas like we’re following the Yellow Brick Road is a clever and helpful tool. Thanks, Lauren! I’m excited to read HOME FOR A WHILE.

First of all, I love your “yellow brick road” analogy! (The Wizard of Oz was such a magical movie and experience for me as a child…I lived in the pre-VCR, pre-DVR, pre-Netflix–era and remember fondly how The Wizard of Oz was shown only ONCE a year on TV. It was always something to look forward to! But I digress…. lol). Thank you for this great tool for brainstorming!! I will definitely try it out!
Rebecca Gardyn Levington

Brilliant! I love this systematic approach!
Thanks for sharing!

Thank you for showing how you generate ideas or layers for a book. I never thought you could get so many ideas out of what I would have thought of as just one idea. Need to try this with some of my own ideas.

Great advice, thank you! I always do wordbanks for poetry but hadn’t really thought about it for my picture books!

Excellent advice here- thank you!

Great idea! Thanks, Lauren.

Great post! I especially liked the word bank idea.

Your ideas to stretch out the topic are great! Love it!!!

Putting my ruby slippers on and skipping along to find the magic! Thanks for the inspiration, Lauren.

This is such an awesome way to develop story ideas – thank you so much Lauren!

Love these ideas! I think I’ll try them out today!
Thank you!!

The Word Bank exercise is Golden! This is a great post and your website was helpful too! Thank you, Lauren.

Thank you Lauren! What a fun way to generate ideas. I’m going to grab my coffee and get started!

The word bank + question is a wonderful way to brainstorm new ideas. Thank you!

Word bank to spur on new roads!!! Genius. Thanks Lauren. Down the road I go. Toto too!

Love your yellow brick road idea. Definitely going to try it!

Thank you Lauren, for leading us down the yellow brick road to find ideas, using the word bank.

This is a fantastic idea! I am definitely going to use this strategy not only for myself, but with my high school English classes. Thank you so much.

This post is a keeper! I love the idea generation of the yellow brick road! Thank you.

Such a concrete way to make ideas follow the road we create! Ty, Lauren. Your new book sounds amazing and so needed.

Love these ideas – thanks for sharing Lauren.

Thank you for this helpful template and your wise words. I feel you have really hit on the heart of how to take the seed of an idea and grow it into a garden.

Such a great idea!! I always think a story needs to profoundly come to me, but sometimes just writing down things you know can lead you down an interesting road you would have never gone down. Thanks for the morning motivation!

Thank you for sharing this very helpful post about how you generate and expand upon ideas. Very interesting and inspiring, Lauren! Best wishes with your new book!

But how does a squirrel show emotion? Great questions to ask oneself.
AMAZING gold mine of templates. How generous.

Can’t wait to try this idea and follow my own yellow brick road. Thank you for sharing this idea.

The related word bank idea is brilliant and I can’t wait to try it! Also looking forward to reading HOME FOR A WHILE. (Although I think my favorite part of this post might be your typewriter pen holder!)

I like this, generating ideas from an idea. I see a network of pathways and lots of choices, directions to go in. Thanks!

The template is great- I need to follow up on story ideas and spend some time growing those ideas before the story seed fades and dies. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

Your framework for generating depth with your ideas is actionable. Good stuff.

Thanks for a great post, Kersten! I love your idea of creating a word bank then ‘following the yellow brick road’ and I’m going to try it!

What a terrific template! I can’t wait to give this a try to discover new ideas or add layers to one idea!

Thank you Lauren!!! I’ve to your website and downloaded your template! And love the Yellow Brick Road research! Thanks fir the inspiration!!

Love the Storystorm template. Great story generating ideas. Thank you!

Oooh, this is a good one too! So many new ways to generate ideas in just one blog. The hits just keep coming. I question everything else in my life, why not this?

Thank you!

Oh, I love this idea!!!

Fleshing out a story via the yellow brick road is such a helpful way for me to write. Thank you!

I love this approach to coming up with ideas, Lauren! Can’t wait to get going!

I love all this advice! I especially loved your word bank and seeing how it generates ideas. Thanks for sharing. I cant wait to read about Calvin!

Thank you for sharing these ideas and templates! I love this recipe for getting started–write down a concrete idea, create a wordbank, and follow the yellow brick road by creating a list of key questions and concepts from your most promising words in the wordbank. Genius!

Very helpful Thanks for the template, Lauren!

Oh my gosh! I love this idea!! I sorta do it already- but to do it purposefully… WOW!!! Thank you!

That’s a great way to make one spark come alive! I’ve never built a story like this. I’ll have to take a look at some past Storystorm ideas and see what happens. Thank you and Congrats!

Love this post on how to take an idea and develop it different ways! Thanks Lauren and Congratulations on your new book—Home For A While. Looking forward to reading it!

The template seems very helpful with the ideas I want to explore further!

I love that — Follow the Yellow Brick Road! Great way to generate more ideas from the initial idea!!Thank you!

I love the theme that keeps returning in these posts: Brainstorm, ask questions, and let your imagination lead the way. Thanks for sharing your process!

Thanks for the great ideas! It’s fun when ideas keep popping up! Looking forward to reading your book.

Well, that was helpful! I love posts that show me new ways to discover possibilities along the writerly path.Thanks!

Your post is so helpful! I’m definitely going to try it. And you book looks adorable, I’m going to have to check it out. Thanks for the inspiration!

This is great! Adding layers to my manuscripts is definitely something I need to do.

Thanks! A great, practical exercise for generating ideas!

Thank you for the specific ideas on developing layers and idea generation. Wonderful!

Thank you Lauren 😊

This is great. I just shared a made up outline with my crit group for making sure we get everything into the story. And I did include word bank. However, I didn’t think any further than to create a list of words for the particular story I’m working on. This post opens up a whole new way to use the bank. Wow! Thank you, thank you, for helping me color outside of the lines!

A word bank for each story?! What a brilliant idea – cannot believe I’ve never done that. A bank of key words and phrases would be so helpful!! Thank you Lauren:>

Great ideas!

This idea is golden! Thanks for the templates and tips!

What a clever way of generating story ideas. Thank you!

What a great idea- I’m going to try this today! Thank you!

This is helpful advice. Thanks!

A better way to brainstorm! Love it!

Thank you for the great ideas I love your word bank wonder and I’m ready to try it out.

Love the yellow brick road analogy. Great ideas for story storming. Thank you!

Thank you for helping us dig deeper when we come up with our new ideas. Great suggestions!

Any tip involving the Wizard of Oz is a keeper! Great advice – thanks for sharing!

Lauren, I love the idea of using this technique to add layers. Your YBR’s are so different from each other, but I love how each one could be worked in with another for a story. To borrow from another classic story, yellow brick roads could be a real rabbit hole to get lost in!

I like the idea of the Word Bank, then expanding each idea to expand and add layers. Gonna try this today with a new idea!

Such a concrete path to creating and generating ideas. Thank you!!

This is fascinating. I’ve never thought about playing with the initial idea in this way… I will now!

Thank you so much for taking us through your process. Great ideas to try!

Thank you Lauren, I like how following the yellow brick road adds so many layers to a story. 🎵I’m off to create my most wonderful story of all 🎵 😊

I love this method! Great idea. Thank you for sharing. T

Interesting approach – thanks for sharing

Ooh, I’ll have to check out HOME FOR A WHILE.
Thank you!

Thanks for the ideas and templates! Very useful.

Love everything about this post: The Wizard of Oz, tangible tips, and a take-away template. And an A+ for your pen/pencil holder! Congrats on your upcoming book birthday!

Thanks so much for sharing your process, love the word bank.

Wow – what a great article! Love the OZ imagery.

Thank you for sharing and for the great ideas.

This is a brilliant process that I will return to again and again! Thanks, Lauren!

Thank you, Lauren. The Word Bank alone is a great story starter!

I love the idea of a Word Bank. Thank you for a wonderful post with great ideas.

What a great way to organize thoughts and ideas! Thanks for sharing!

This pairs well with yesterday’s post. Thanks!

Fabulous post! I love the idea of writing a list of words you could possibly use and then what do those words make you think/wonder.

Thank you Lauren! I will give that yellow brick road a try!

Thank you for the post! I will definitely try this method out.

Great idea! It all stems from asking questions, right? I love your Home for a While concept!!

Lauren!!! You had me at “Yellow Brick Road,” but when I checked out your templates, I actually got goosebumps! We are “list/chart/organizing” sisters from another Mister! I LOVE that there were a few I hadn’t yet thought of and am ecSTATic! This post actually PAVES the Yellow Brick Road to a completed book. Thank you SOOoooo much 😀 ❤

I really enjoyed your posting … although I can’t get the tune out of my head now! If I had ruby red slippers to click, I’d be doing right now. Thank you for sharing.

This is great. I love the list but I love seeing the next step in the process. Sometimes I don’t push further when I should. Thanks for letting us see this process.

Wonderful word banks AND an Elmo GIF – perfection Lauren!

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

Very concrete, helpful suggestions. Thank you!!

Wow! It’s nice to see others have a brain that goes in several directions at once. 🙂

Thank you for your templates!

I’m not much of a list maker; I write them, grocery lists, chore lists, fun things to do lists, but them I forget to take my list to the store, or get off track and don’t get back on, or forget where I put my list. However, I just might be successful with these word lists because the two lists work together much like a prep assignment for a research paper. I’ll give this activity a shot and see where it leads me.

Great suggestions for not only generating ideas, but adding depth to those you have! Thanks!

What a great word bank method! Thank you for the post. Looking forward to reading HOOME FOR A WHILE.

I’ll take a trip on that yellow brick road, thanks.

Love this Yellow brick road idea. It’s about opening up to many possibilities not just following the trail of one story.

Thank you for the template and the trip on the yellow brick road. Congratulations on your new book. I can’t wait to read it!

Great post! Love your steps to gathering more ideas and fleshing out the ones we have. Thank you

Thanks for your template and good ideas. I’m anxious to read your new book when it comes out!

thank you. A new way for me to get more depth into my characters and story. Got to try this method.

An amazing way to find more ideas and layers to your PB. Thanks.

Thank you!

Thanks, Lauren! You’ve got me putting on my ruby slippers …

So happy to travel the Yellow Brick Road with you, my friend and CP. May your path always be paved with gold. Lynne Marie

Thank you for your template and great ideas. I’m anxious to read your new book when it comes out!

Thank you for sharing your process with us! I’ll have to try following the yellow brick road! 😀

Thank you for this! Very practical and inspiring.

Three of the icons on my computer screen are screen shots of words – obsolete words, funny words and words kids love. Many ideas have started with just one word! Thanks for the post.

I LOVE the idea of making a word bank then following the yellow brick road. Thank you!

A great strategy! Thanks for your post!

This process is FABULOUS. Thanks so much for sharing.

I love that idea of going down the yellow brick road and I have a soft spot for squirrels. Great post!

Great points and the Storystorm template is really useful – thank you!

Lauren always gives such great advice! Thank you!!

Absolutely love the Yellow Brick Road analogy! And boy, does that happen. Can’t wait to read your new book.

Thank you, Lauren! Your strategies and Storystorm template are invaluable.

Very logical and specific ideas–thank you so much!

Thank you, Lauren, the leading us to the Yellow Brick Road for today’s writing adventure.

I can’t wait to use this method this weekend; thanks so much! And you can’t beat a ‘Wizard of Oz’ reference; love it!

Thanks for the great tips, Lauren!

What a great concept. Thank you for sharing the templates on your author website. I will follow the yellow brick road from now on.

Such an interesting post! Looking at your Storystorm template I discovered the exploding sandwich : > Thanks, Lauren!

Making a list is your basket of apples. Sometimes you chew on an idea, sometimes you mull over it, and some ideas are just bad apples, but that is for you to decide. So make a list and get started.

I’m all for the layers! Thank you for the inspiration and the template too!

Thank you for your word bank process. Can’t wait to try to develop a picture book manuscript with lists!

Love your strategies. Thank you for templates❤️

I will surely follow this process and see where this lead me to. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading Home for a while. happy new year.

Thank you for the advice! I love hearing about the different ways that authors develop their stories and the tools they use to make characters complex and interesting. Can’t wait to read this book!

I’ve never done a word bank before. But I’m very intrigued because I do love words! Also, thank you for the templates!

I love that one of your goals is to “embrace feedback.” That encouragement alone is worth the price of admission! Thanks and congrats on your upcoming book!

Great suggestions…thanks for sharing!

The layering idea is splendid. The best picture books are always about more than they’re “about”.

I love the word bank/yellow brick road idea. That’s a great story-starter tip!

I love your step by step tips for developing a story, especially the word bank. Thank you so much for the link to your templates – they are gold, and I’ll be able to use everyone one of them.

Your template is intense in a fabulous way. I love and can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for sharing!!

Love this method! Thank you for sharing and for the template!

Very interesting way as to how to get an idea growing. Thank you!

I am going to use my idea from yesterday and crank out a word bank. You’re such a smarty!!!

These are wonderful! I’m adding your templates to my toolbox. Thank you!!!

These list ideas are fabulous. Thank you!

Congratulations, Lauren, on Home for a While. And thanks for reminder to add layers to story.

Not only a great process but one that’s fun and packed with spin off ideas. Thanks, Lauren. I love it.

I like the word bank wonder idea – Thank you.

Your word bank idea is excellent and a great way for me to add to my writing treasure of ideas.

I love this idea, because it can be applied to picture books and MG alike! Hope to win a critique of my picture book and read HOME FOR A WHILE. Thanks so much, Lauren and Tara!

Oh, I love the yellow brick road idea! Fabulous.

Hi, Lauren! I love the Yellow Brick Road approach. It is really helpful to see it listed out this way. Congratulations on your new book!

Thank you Lauren. Great post.

Love the word bank idea. So many ideas came from one idea! Cool! Can’t wait to try it!

Lauren – thank you for this great, ideation-inspiring little roadmap! Off to see the wizard!:)

Working the word bank. I love this idea.

Never know sometimes where the story is going to take us.

Love your idea.

Great way to spark and journey with ideas. Thanks for sharing.

You are an idea wizard! Thanks for sharing your steps on the Yellow Brick Road. So fun and so clever!

Reminds me of those word webs we used to complete in school–only much more pleasant because who likes spiders?!

Thanks for sharing.

Great insight and I love the Wizard of Oz analogy! Thank you.

Thank you for that road map.

Thank you for sharing and congratulations on your new book – can’t wait to see it!

I read this after having created a word list, something I often do while ideating. I usually use that list to help jumpstart the story or come up with a title. Thanks to you, I’ve got another step to explore, following the yellow brick road. Love it!

Thank you for your insights. Love it!

Great idea on how to get lots of ideas from one idea!!

This idea really resonates with me. I’m starting to find that word banks can be helpful at all stages of the writing process: brainstorming, writing, and revising! Thank you!

Excited to try this strategy!! Thank you 💛

Your Storystorm template and how-to-use it ideas arrived just in time today for developing an idea that is on my Storystorm list. Thank-you.

Thank you, love the templates!

I am going to go try to think of a concept and get started on my brainstorming right now – in my handy dandy Storystorm journal that JUST arrived!!

I think this is a very helpful way of developing the story ideas brainstormed during this month. I hope to use this strategy to help me advance my writing.

So much great info packed into this post. And the template! That is so incredibly useful. Thank you, Lauren, and congrats on your book!!

This is a really interesting exercise that I’m going to try right now.

Love this idea of branching off one main idea. This is really cool, thank you for sharing!

Some good ideas here.

Thanks for the helpful tips 🙂

I am going to have to incorporate the word bank with my students. I like the Yellow Brick Road idea. In my class we call it the world of wonder, as in, I wonder….

Love this post, Lauren! Thanks for the template!

The Yellow Brick Road makes gathering ideas sound so easy! Thank you.

Thanks Lauren, I look forward to the new PB! Record or weep is great advice, don’t discount ideas.

I love the idea of using the spark to generate more ideas. Thank you! Congratulations on your upcoming book. I look forward to reading it.

I love the idea of a whole notebook for one story to keep it all organized. Thanks!

Wonderful, concrete ways to take those sparks further. Fabulous templates. And your book looks so beautiful. Thank you, Lauren!

Ahh, more lists to fuel the fire of creativity. Thank you! I’ll be honest though: reading this post, I felt a certain stubbornness stir up in me. “A word bank? But didn’t I already write all the words I need in the actual story itself?” But I swallowed my artistic pride and applied this exercise to the MS I’m currently working on. And you know what? There’s a particular magic to jotting down an idea or a detail that you had only alluded to or thought of in your head previously. Even though I *knew*, on some level, that my MS had to do with generosity and trying new things, among other subjects, actually typing those words out solidified the concept that much more for me. It’s like that ancient belief that knowing the name of something gives you power over it. Well, writing down the name of the idea that I was trying to communicate made me feel that much more empowered by it. Just having that “tactile” list for me to refer back to has already helped bring certain things into sharper focus. Thank you again!

What a great technique for turning one idea into several.

Great suggestions. I would love to read your upcoming book and meet Calvin. We need more books about kids in these kind of situations!
In the meantime, I hope to follow your yellow brick road. 🙂

Yellow Brick Road: Why are they yellow? How to they get the gold/yellow paint? Who’s responsible for cleaning it?

I love the idea of a word bank to kick off the trip down the yellow brick road. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you Lauren. Your website is full of ideas and templates to use when writing. I like this yellow brick road idea and hopefully if I stick with squirrels there won’t be a million of them out there in a few months. I watched two this fall gathering pinecones and taking to a nest for winter but I didn’t have a story idea till now.

After reading your incredible post, I realized that when I create a mind map for my story idea I’m really generating a word bank. Then adding layers by asking deeper questions? That’s gold! I’m going to do this with all the ideas I’ve jotted down this month. Thank you.

That was so helpful – thanks!

Thank you so much for such practical, implementable ways to move our story storm ideas into the next level of story development.

Love the templates on your website! Thanks for suggesting the word bank idea. I’ve seen it mentioned before, but never actually put it into practice. Now I’m fired up to try it!

I love your Storystorm template, Lauren! Thanks for sharing that with us!
-Maryna Doughty

I love the yellow brick road strategy – thank you!

From one former Jersey Girl to another, thanks so much, Lauren! I love all your ideas, and of course, HOME FOR A WHILE is an amazing story! Thanks, Lauren and Tara!

Thanks, Lauren, for the Storystorm template. I loved your word bank idea, and your description on how to follow the Yellow Brick Road. This was a great post.

At first I was skeptical of your word bank idea, but then I saw where it could lead. Idea generator! Will definitely try it. Thank you!

Thanks Lauren, I will try the word bank and yellow brick road ideas, and will also check out your templates. This post was a wealth of inspiration!

I love the layering focus – thank you!

I love seeing how other people build their stories, fantastic. And what a neat template you provide to dive deeper into our story sparks, thanks!

I love that you have a creative process. Even better, you named it the Yellow Brick Road!! This post is a keeper! Thanks for sharing!!

Such a helpful post -one can never go wrong following the yellow brick road! Thank you and congrats!

Great ideas and reminders! I used word banks with my students but for some reason never thought to use them in my own writing!

Lauren, I love your ideas for following the yellow brick road! Thanks for sharing!

I’ve never tried using a word bank before. I can’t wait to put it to use!

Such a clever idea and makes so much sense I can’t believe I have never done it like this before. Thank you for sharing 😁

Lauren – from one “Jersey” girl to another, thank you for your inspiration. I had a story idea this morning and I’m trying out your method. Thank you!

Thanks for the helpful post – I can already tell this is going to help with…SPARKS! Love the word bank idea. Also thanks for the link to your Story Storm template. I’m looking forward to reading Home For A While!

Great post – and the link to the author’s storystorm template provides even more great information. Thank you!

Thank you for the great post Lauren! I can’t wait to read your new book. I’m also a mental health therapist and writer, so very anxious to see how you tackled the topic of foster care, etc.

Another great reason to follow the yellow brook road. Thanks for the inspiration, Lauren.

This was a profitable exercise and a new way of looking at things during the idea stage. Thank-you. (I love the ideas I generated through your YBR activity!!!!!!!)

Love the word bank idea. I’ve never tried that. Thanks for joining Story Storm!

What a great post! I love the peanut-butter-and-jelly-eating squirrel. So many story ideas from one. This will be a very productive strategy to use. Thank you!

Lauren, thanks for the templates. I’m excited to play with my idea nuggets.

Love this strategy! It’s just perfect for exploring that yellow brick road. Thank you! Congrats on your new book!

Lauren! You combined two of my favorite things: ideas and lists. Thank you! 🙂

Great storystorm exercise ! Love the storystorm mug too!!! great post. I will try to follow the yellow brick road!

Word banks are fun. Great ideas, thanks. But now I’ve got “follow the yellow brick road” earworming its way through my brain!

This post came at such a perfect time! I was brainstorming for a new manuscript I’ve thought about writing a dozen times. Your strategy is already helping me get the creative juices flowing. Thank you! And, I second Mary Jo. Ideas + lists = <3!!!

Great strategy!

such a wonderful way to organize all those random Roman candles shooting off in my head. thank you for sharing!

Lauren, thanks for a very helpful post. I will be referring back to it and to the template. Your writing goals are so important! I look forward to reading HOME FOR A WHILE and sharing it with a young man we fostered when he was a teen so he may in turn share it with his young family.

Thanks for sharing your template. I like lists, too. And the word bank is a great way to spark new ideas.


Thank you for this unique approach to building a story while generating new ideas! And…those templates on your website are mind blowing!! They’re wonderful and so very helpful. Thank you for sharing your ideas and wisdom with us!

Thanks for an inspiring post, Lauren! I’m definitely going to use the word bank idea and template.

I made my list ( checked it twice-oops -different song). Lots of cool ideas. Nice different approach

OMG! Your templates are amazing. Thank you for sharing. I love the idea that a word can be your inspiration and you just “follow the yellow brick road” to the exploding sandwich! That sounds like a picture book all on its own!

Thank you for sharing your tools for success! Those templates on your web site are most helpful!

Thank you Lauren and Tara!
Such great examples of one form of inspiration leading to another- very creative processes to help- thanks!
You book sounds wonderful to help kids and adults!
Take care and Happy new year to you both! Tina

I love this template! Thanks for sharing this method and for your amazing talents!

Love this idea. It’s really actionable!

I like this follow the yellow brick road method. I can see it generating lots of ideas. Thanks!

I enjoyed your post, Lauren. Using word banks is a great way to generate story ideas and layers, for sure.Thanks.

This is gold! Thank you for your advice!

Love the word bank and all of the good story starters that it produced. Great idea!

What a great post! Love the idea of following idea where ever they lead. No telling what fun places we might go. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you, Lauren! This is an amazing way to generate ideas and I can’t wait to try it!

I love the idea of following the yellow brick road! Thanks also for your template, Lauren!

Love this concept, Lauren. A great way to dig deeper! Congratulations!

Great template, and a great way to generate even more ideas!

Great tip for ideation! Also – as an adoptive mom I love having foster care as a theme. Showing kids all the different paths to family is wonderful.

I love the yellow brick road! Can’t wait to see where it leads today!

Who knew following the Yellow Brick Road could be part of my search for new ideas.

I can’t wait to try the Word Bank idea!

Thanks! I like the idea of taking one concept and asking questions. It feels scientific.

Thank you for sharing these steps!

Great tips on diving deeper to see different possibilities of where your ideas can go! Thanks Lauren and congratulations!

Wow. Thanks for sharing your numerous templates on your website. And who doesn’t giggle 🙂 when Elmo dances! Peace, A

“The other thing to keep in mind is that following the Yellow Brick Road not only leads to new ideas, it can also help you add layers to your manuscript.” Thanks for that reminder!

Taking ideas farther down the yellow brick road is a great way to flesh them out to see what works!

Lauren, what a great way to move forward with ideas.Thanks!

Thanks for your awesome post. I love the Word Bank approach. Will definitely try. Congrats on your upcoming book!

Lauren, I loved your example of the Yellow Brick Road and will use that to flush-out the golden nuggets of choice words to be used in my stories. Thanks a bunch!

This is such a great idea! I do a word bank with associated words for all my stories, but that is to put those words IN my story. I never thought about using a word bank to go in different directions with story inspiration! Thank you!!

This is brilliant, Lauren! Love the Word Bank idea. And thanks for generously sharing your templates. Congrats on your new PB.

I’m looking forward to reading Home for Awhile.

I love your stepwise process. I’m definitely going to try out your word bank and yellow brick road. Thanks so much!

What a fabulous exercise for moving forward after that
initial SPARK –thanks!

The Yellow Brick Road is genius. Did you come up with that? I am excited to incorporate that ASAP. Thank you for sharing this awesome way to generate ideas.

Your template is amazing. Thank you!

Lauren, your step-by-step brainstorming path will help focus our imaginations. As we “storystorm,” sometimes creativity sparks like sparklers. Ideas light up and fizzle out before we’re able to flush out a solid idea. I appreciate your work in designing the Storystorm template. I’ve downloaded and printed copies as I get set to stir up ideas. Bravo for your upcoming books! Sending you energy and inspiration for your continued journey…

Great step-by-step inspiration! And thanks for the templates, Lauren.

Thank you, Lauren, for the suggestion of the word bank and then taking those words to follow the Yellow Brick Road into story ideas. I look forward to trying this out.

I absolutely love the WORD BANK WONDER, great idea! Thank you Lauren!

What a great set of tools to use in fleshing out an idea for a picture book. I’ve never tried this and have never seen it. Thank you for the example of showing how it’s applied.

I love the concept of brainstorming off of a word bank!

great idea about building a story. So glad someone who is a social worker wrote a PB about a foster child.

As I read your post, ideas started flowing. Great strategy. Need to run! Gotta catch up with my ideas on the yellow brick road. Toodles.

Lauren, thanks for sharing your approach and for the templates. Congrats on your new book– I love Magination Books! (My background is in school counseling.)

I like how you started with one idea and then branched out into many different ideas and then kept going. This is an great technique for brainstorming before picking an idea to flesh out. I love it. Thank, Lauren.

Interesting! I will give it a shot.

I love how you came up with such good questions just from your word bank. Your new book, Home for a While, sounds wonderful, as I have not seen many picture books addressing coping skills for kids while in foster care. As an adoptive mom, I am eager to share your book with the families in my post-adoption and foster care support group. Thank you for writing it!

Love that idea of adding layers. Feelings can be complicated.

Lauren, you are the wonderful wizard of ideas! Great post that took me to unique thoughts for some of my projects. Thanks for the inspiration.

Love your Yellow Brick Road approach! So many metaphors for the idea-generation process. And now I must say that I’ll have an earworm for the rest of the day, LOL.

Love this concrete format for adding layers to a story–very helpful!

Who put the ape in apricot? What has he got that I ain’t got? Seriously, this is a fun brainstorming approach–thank you!

I love this process. Thank you Lauren!

What a great way to build on ideas!

Great advice, thank you for the fantastic post! ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ can’t wait 🤗 best wishes x

I love the way you’ve put this. It’s such a helpful way to organize ideas while hunting for stories. Thank you!

I love this fun way to generate ideas! I’m going to try the word bank with my newest idea. Thank Lauren!

Wow, thank you, Lauren! You just shared yet another fantastic method—the yellow-brick-road method—for harvesting story ideas!

Thank you Lauren! Great advice!

I love that your yellow brick road went to squirrels. I like squirrels. Once when I tried to catch one, I realized that doggies can’t climb trees. #imaginethat

Love and licks,

Thank you, Lauren. I love the word bank idea! Good suggestions.

Thanks for taking us along on the Yellow Brick Road, and for your awesome Storystorm template!

Thanks for your thoughts. I think your templates are great. Thanks for sharing!

Can’t wait to try this technique- and grab a copy of your book. I have nephews adopted out of foster care.

Thanks, Lauren! I appreciate the example of how one idea can expand into many!

Thank you Lauren. I really like the template idea and will indeed take a trip along the yellow brick road!

Thanks for the great advice. I enjoyed looking at your website and appreciated the template.

I love this method of generating ideas! And congrats on your new book. It sounds wonderful!

Lauren, you’re a wiz at fleshing out story ideas. Thank you for showing how you add layers, for your Storystorm template, and for your beautiful new book, Home for a While ❤

I love this idea. I do use the template. I feel like I have accomplished something when I follow through with a method and end up with a fabulous idea to put in my stash. Thank, Lauren.

This is a fantastic idea!! Thanks and I’m off to see the wizard!

OMGOODNESS The Yellow Brock Road is an amazing strategy! Thank you for sharing this. Best of luck with your new book launching.

Love these concrete ideas on how to generate plots and take them wherever the road leads! Thank you for sharing your process : )

What a timely story! Congratulations! Can’t wait to read it! Thank you for sharing your steps for creating story ideas!

Thank you for sharing this. A wonderful way to let your ideas flow and find your groove. 🙂

Thank you, Lauren! I can’t wait to make my own way along the yellow brick road! 🙂

I love the step by step instructions on how to follow the yellow brick road, and thank you for providing such great writing resources on your website!

Oooh, word banks. What a great idea. Thank you, Lauren.

I’m excited to try this yellow brick road strategy and see where my initial idea might take me. And I can’t wait for your upcoming book. We adopted our little boy through Foster Care and your book sounds so meaningful. Thank you!

Thank you, a great way to let your mind wander and find new direction.

I love creating word banks, so this way of generating ideas sounds really fun! Thank you.

Never have I thought of creating a word bank before I write … that suggestion alone makes this post gold for me (then there’s your other suggestions – and the template). Thank you so much.

Thank you Lauren. I appreciate your advice. I know that every idea may not be a story, every idea deserves a chance. You never know.

Oh great Empress of Templates Lauren, I want to thank you for giving us the royal treatment! Looking at the blank templates on your blog post is an amazing journey into the ways you get ready to write a picture book. It’s inspirational, not to mention just plain fun to check them out. There are ways to define character, directions to take the plot, and prompts to help with decision making while brainstorming. I love that picture book author support tracking page! Genius! Thank you so much for generously offering these frameworks. Happy book-to-be in February!

I love this “yellow brick road” idea. I think it is one I can really use to keep my brain going in the right direction. I find walking a great way to think through my ideas, but living in Buffalo, pretty much takes that away from me for the winter. I think this might be just what I need.

Thanks for the inspiration, Lauren! I checked out your website and found a few other gems. Thanks!

Love word banks! Thanks for sharing!

Great tips! Thank you!

Thanks for sharing!

Great “steps” to take down that yellow brick road! Thanks so much, Lauren. Congrats on another fantastic-sounding book!

Oooh, amazing suggestions! Thank you.

Thanks for a great post! I love the example of how one idea branches into many more. I’m looking forward to your new book- as a social worker I’ve worked with many kids in foster care, and there’s such a need for this!

Thanks Lauren for the next level of brainstorming lists! Congratulations on your book, it sounds great.

Love this column. It is a keeper!!! Thank you

Lauren, I love this way of coming up with story ideas! Thanks!

Love this post and the concept of following the yellow brick road. Thank you, Lauren!

What a great idea. I love the thought process – going to give this a try today.

What a fun theme and way to generate ideas! Thanks for this tool!

Thank you, Lauren! Your Storystorm template is amazing. And so is your idea for a word bank. I can’t wait to try them out!

An idea can go in so many directions. Thanks for leading us down the yellow brick road.

My Word Bank is earning interest every day.

Thank you for sharing.

I’m going to try your ideas 🙂 .

Thank you! I am going to try your word bank suggestion. Great idea! Congrats on your new book!

I love the idea of following the yellow brick road of ideas. Thanks!

Thank you for sharing your template and many helpful suggestions.

Love it! A simple, yet effective exercise. Thanks!

Congratulations Lauren! What a fun post following you down the yellow brick road to ideas and layers! I’m looking forward to reading your story 🙂

I love the Wizard of Oz and love that you tied it into idea creation/exploration! Thanks for the steps and congrats on your new story. 🙂

I am a Child Psychologist and also interested in picture books dealing with emotions and social skills. Thanks for the tips to help generate ideas!

Congratulations on your latest books and thanks for the inspiration. Special thanks for all the templates on your website – what a treasure trove. See you on twitter.

Lauren, this is such a great way to look for/find layers within an idea. Such a great template, too. Thank for such a great post and an avalanche of ideas today! Can’t wait to meet Calvin!

Wow, look how many more ideas you were able to come up with using this exercise! I love this method- thanks for sharing it. Congratulations on your new book!

I love the yellow brick road approach! Thanks for sharing, Lauren!

I am so going to follow the Yellow Brick Road. I might even sing while I’m doing it. Can’t wait to read your books even if I don’t win one! Thanks for the template(s). (I went to your website and grabbed a few more.)

So interesting and a great way to generate multiple story ideas. Thank you!

Thank you Lauren, loved the Yellow Brick road approach. It’s something I have to remind myself to do sometimes especially when I see a deadline looming. Great templates too. Thank you for sharing them.

Thanks for sharing your darling process! I’m excited to meet Calvin (and congratulations!).

Thanks so much!

Great idea thanks for sharing

Love this!! Thanks!

So much fun to see how one idea leads to another idea and then another and another and another! Thanks!

I love the road analogy with one idea leading to another. And your StoryStorm template is fabulous — thank you!

Lauren, I like the idea of the yellow brick road for Story Storm. Thank you.

Thanks for the specific process to generate ideas!

Love your word bank!!!! In a nonfiction pb writing class, the teacher always emphasized the importance of those special words that can add so much to the flavor of the story. And I’m adding your word bank idea to my picture book toolbox. Thank you for a great post!!!!

The Yellow Brick Road concept for generating ideas is excellent! Thanks, Lauren!

Thanks for sharing your idea-generating process, Lauren. I am so excited to read your book, Home for a While – a much needed picture book!

Ta ta! I’m off to see the wizard!!

Hey, wait that’s how I do it!
Scarecrow? Lion? Gasp – Dorothy is that YOU?

Great process, Lauren! Thanks for sharing.

I love the idea of using the YBR to add layers! Congrats on Home for a While!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Thanks for this!

Love this post, thanks so much. Terrific advice!

I love this Yellow Brick Road approach to fleshing out ideas, Lauren. Thank you! Also, I appreciate the template to help me get it all down on paper and out of my head.

OMG–LOVE all of your templates on your site! Thanks for sharing. Congrats on your publications, and good luck on your upcoming book launches!

Love this idea generation exercise! Thank you and can’t wait to get my copy of Home for A While!!

I love the yellow brick road!! It gives a form to stream of consciousness and is such a great idea generator!!

Thank you for sharing the great advice, Lauren!

Love that you “keep Dragons” I love dragons…the ones in my head, heart and home are many and mighty and meek and mild and fine and wild…Thanks!

Thank you for sharing! I’m excited to wander down the yellow brick road and your website with all of the templates is a huge bonus! Thanks again!

Thanks so much for sharing this story generating idea and all the resources on your website. I love how your Rosie & Charlie books take universal kid centered themes and put a new twist on them. Can’t wait to read your new book.

Thanks Lauren! It is so true how one idea can spark so many more. The templates you linked are incredibly helpful as well!

Yay, Lauren! Your book is lovely.

I love your Yellow Brick Road theory and the fact that you have a notebook JUST for fleshing out new ideas. I’m going to do the same. Currently I have notes for ideas sprinkled in with conference/webinar notebooks. Thanks for the tips!

Thanks for the yellow brick road analogy, and congratulations on your book! Lynn Street

Wonderful strategy! Thank you. I’m going to try it out right away.

I love the idea of following the yellow brick road to find out more about a spark and the direction it could take. Thank you for the templates and sound writing advice.

Great suggestions and strategies! Thank you for sharing them!

What a timely book! Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your steps for finding story ideas.

Layers in the story are very important! Thank you for mentioning that, Lauren! Your templates are very helpful and a generous thing for you to offer. Thank you!

Thanks for the fantastic post, Lauren! It is incredibly helpful. I appreciate the template links and, of course, Once a Jersey Girl, Always a Jersey Girl!

I see lists and templates in my dreams, so your resources are an inspiration! I look forward to your important book, congrats!

Thanks for the great advice! I can’t wait to meet Calvin. Good luck!

Thanks so much for sharing this strategy! I love it–spark, word bank wonder, yellow brick road. I’m excited to try it! Thank you!

I love this! Such a great brainstorming technique. Thanks for sharing. I’m off the follow the yellow brick road! 🙂

Thank you for sharing this creative process for delving into an idea! Also the templates you have shares are super helpful!

Thank you for your tips on generating new story ideas. I can’t wait to read your latest book (Calvin is adorable).

Thank you for the inspiration and examples! I can’t wait to use the storystorm template.

Love this idea of generating story ideas. Thanks, Lauren.

Lauren, Can’t wait to read your latest book. THANK YOU for the templates!

I love the yellow brick road idea and the word Bank. Thanks for the ideas!

Thank you for your inspiration for writing and tips! Congrats on your new book! I can’t wait to read it!

This is so helpful for someone just starring out. Thank you!

Hi Lauren, Fun post! I look forward to reading your new PB.

I hadn’t thought of coming up with the words before I began writing. This is a great way to brainstorm. Thanks!

I really like your word bank . It’s nonpressureful (made up word) and can really spark myriad new ideas. Thank you.

Love the yellow brick road metaphor! I’m on it!

Thanks Laura, for the template and practical way to build layers, brick by brick. I look forward to reading your books!

Thank you for sharing.

Thanks for the template. It seems like it will be very helpful. Thanks for an inspiring post. Nice to see you here.

Yellow brick road is a lovely mental exercise! Thank you, Lauren. Excited to try it!

What a great way to develop ideas. Thanks for your post.

Thank you for the ideas for organizing.

Thank you for the templates.

These are good writing activities that I HAVEN”T DONE YET and need to waaaaah

I love The Wizard of Oz, so thanks for linking your really helpful writing suggestions to the the yellow brick road. 🙂

Great model and template. Thanks for sharing the resources! Clicking my heels together and diving into brainstorm mode…

This might be my favorite idea yet. Simple and elegant. A great idea creator. Thank you!!

Love this! I never thought of brainstorming quite in this way. 🙂 (Bonus: You can sing the song while you’re making your list.)

Great post! I’d write more, but I’m off to see the wizard!

Follow, follow, follow, follow… to whatever ideas it may lead you to. Loved the idea of using these lead for both adding layers to the story AND for inspiration for new stories. Thanks!

❤️ touch children’s hearts!

This was so helpful–thank you! I followed the Yellow Brick Road today and got a bunch of new ideas!

This is great, thank you! I can’t wait to try following the yellow brick road!

Thank you for this post. This is a new and fresh take on brainstorming, that I have never considered before. I am used to lists…tons of lists (which I still like) and branching out from those lists to create new ones until I find THE idea…but I will definitely try this new way and see where it takes me 🙂

Love it! Definitely going to try this technique!

Thank you for the great suggestions. I can’t wait to read your new book,
Home For a While!

If I only had a brain . . . Oops, wrong song!😜 Guess I took a detour but maybe that’s just another way to explore my yellow brick road????

Thank you!

Love your creativity combined with a structured approach. And appreciate you sharing your template!

Thanks for sharing your process!

I will try to follow that yellow brick road, but I have to admit I’m likely to end up taking a nap in the poppy fields. But that might lead to some good ideas too. Thanks for the inspiration!

Thanks for the new strategy!

Yes! I totally do this and then feel bad for doing it because I “wasted” the tome I was “supposed to be writing” Ha! Thanks for the encouragement and the validation!

Thanks so much Lauren. These are excellent tips. Looking forward to trying them out.

LAUREN: THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION! Going step-by-step through the exercise you provided, I feel like you took us each by the hand and walked with us down that Yellow Brick Road. THANK YOU for showing us the way! I also appreciate the reminder to look for multiple layers of each these GOLDEN roads. WOW! SO MANY POSSIBILITIES AWAIT US on our journey of discovering the HEART of each of our stories! I CAN’T WAIT to take the hand of each of my readers, to lead them along the Yellow Brick Roads of my creation, TOO! LOVE IT!!! THANK YOU!!! I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to meeting Calvin in “Home for a While.” THANK YOU for bringing awareness to the important topic of foster care. And THANK YOU for being our guide along the Yellow Brick Road—OH, and for getting a CERTAIN song STUCK in my head! HE!HE!HE!

Brilliant idea!! Thank you! Must put a shower friendly note pad in ASAP! 🙂

Lauren, I loved your Yellow Brick Road way of getting new ideas. I can’t wait to give it a try. Now I’ll go through your post again and come up with some new ideas. I have a special place on my computer for them. Great post!

Thank you Lauren! Following the yellow brick road sounds like a great adventure —

Interesting way to make connections in stories. The hardest thing, to get that concrete idea. That critic stops my hand!

This technique of brainstorming is genius!! Thank you!

I love the idea of following the yellow brick road!

Fantastic! Very helpful post! and your templates are a-ma-zing! Thank you so much!

Congratulations on your new book and thanks for the ideas!

This reminds me of the Six Thinking Hats ideation strategy. Thank you!

Thank you so much for this inspiring post and the template.

Wow, great exercises! Thank you! 🙂 Jill Dana

Laure, what a great post! Looking forward to your new book.

I can’t wait to Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Thanks for the slew of ideas rolled into one. Brilliant!

Such a simple yet powerful concept.

Such great advice! Follow the Yellow Brick Road! Thanks, Lauren!!

Thank you Laura, I am having visions of coming up with ideas, and then going forward in an organized way, referring to your template! Something new for me, LOL, but much needed! And will be looking for your book release!

Your Yellow Brick Road tool has already proven beneficial to me. Thanks for sharing it! By the way, I’m a Jersey girl, too, and I’ve been living in Colorado for over 30 years. Once you’re here, you never want to leave.

What a fun tool to use for developing ideas! I often start with an idea and then struggle with where I want to take it. I’m excited to try this out!

I like the idea of a word bank–think of words that could be in a story before thinking of the plot…

What a fun strategy! 🌸


Loved today’s post. Thanks Lauren.

Love this idea! Thanks!!

Thanks—I got a great idea to add to my list while reading this.

Thank you, this helps!

This is such helpful advice! Thanks, Lauren!

Lauren you gave me the most beautiful idea ever! A book for children who aren’t able to live with their parents because it isn’t safe for them. I would have never thought about an idea like that yet I’ve taught a little angel last year who is in this situation & will be getting 2 more angels this year in my class. When I was reading your post & not even doing the exercises you sparked off something inside me. God bless you & thank you! Now I’ll go & do your exercises. Have the loveliest day! ❤️

Your analogy for our writing journey is a magical mix of everyday ideas with a creative twist. I also love the idea how this thinking can add layers to a story. This idea is a keeper. Thanks.

Thank you!

Thanks for sharing your templates with us! I struggle on the organization side once my mss are written, so I’m bookmarking your agent template for sure! 🙂

I LOVE this strategy. It’s simple, clear, and powerful! Thank you!

My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz! I love that your process follows the Yellow Brick Road. I relate to Dorothy with my writing. “She had to learn it for herself” that she could write.. with a little help from some new friends ( wonderful mentors and colleagues). Thanks for sharing this wonderful process.

Fleshing out the good ideas is great advice. Thank you.

What a wonderful writing idea! Thank you, Lauren for sharing this with us. Can’t wait to give it try!

What if.. we follow the yellow tick or yellow thick or yellow stick roads? Turns out the original brick road has all sorts of side paths. Thanks for the push start, Lauren!

Whenever I make word lists, they are incredibly helpful. Thanks for the reminder! Hopefully it will help me with a MS I am puzzling over. Also huge thanks for the templates and the link to the exploding sandwich.

I love this post! Thank you so much for the link to your templates and for your generous prizes. I’m never going to see squirrels in quite the same way, either. Lol. Sounds like a fun story idea to me!

What an awesome post! Thank you so much for the concrete idea-generating strategy. It’s super helpful!

This is absolutely AMAZING!! Thank you, Lauren!!

You made it so easy! Thanks.

Such a concrete way to get started! Thanks for your post.

Hi Lauren,
Great strategy for developing ideas and spring boarding into others!! Thank you
From another Jersey Girl
Jeannie Santucci

Great idea for brainstorming and creating! Thank you.

Thank you for this fun and helpful brainstorming structure!

Looking forward to working with this process. Txalot.

Thank you! That word bank really does generate a ton of deeper ideas!

Love this exercise and the templates! Thank you for sharing! C.

Thank you Lauren. I am going to try this process for all those ideas that stopped at the foot of the road. Wonderful inspiration!

Layers… layers and more layers… layers of different textures, layers of different challenges, layers of different conflicts.. layers Princess and the Pea
thank you

I’m a list girl, so this is right up my alley, er yellow-brick road. Thanks for sharing your process!

Thanks for this idea. I love the Wizard of Oz so it makes sense to me.

Thank you for this post but most importantly thank you for writing a book about foster care. I work with a nonprofit in Austin serving children that need to hear this book. I can’t wait to buy it. Thank you.

Thank you, Lauren. Time to follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Suzy Leopold

Such a great idea! And so doable even if I have just a spark.

This is going on my desk. I need more yellow brick roads to follow. Thank for this inspiring post.

Thank you for sparking lots of ideas and for all the templates.

Your word bank wonder will be a game changer!

Love this! A yellow brick road paved with questions. I can’t wait to try out this exercise.

Thanks, Lauren. Love the process and the templates. ❤

This is fantastic. Doing this right now. Thanks so much Lauren and wish you continued success.

I love word banks! Thanks for this idea to apply a series of questions to them. It will definitely create new avenues for exploring even more ideas.

This is such a great idea generator! And I love that it can help create layers to ms, too. Thanks so much for the post!

Very cool idea, thank you, Lauren!

I love making word lists too – but now I’m excited to use those lists as springboards down all different paths! Genius. Thanks for all the great resources in this post!

I’m off to see the story-generating Wizard!

This post is packed with good ideas on generating ideas! Thank you!

I enjoyed your valuable post and will put it to immediate use. Thanks, Lauren!

My plan for my next writing session is to follow the yellow brick road with my work in progress. Thanks!

Love all these ideas, especially the word bank! Thanks so much, Lauren!

Thanks for sharing a great idea.

I like your process, and your book looks adorable. Can’t wait to read it.

What an interesting exercise! I love how it can branch off into so many possibilities.

Thanks, Lauren, for sharing your process! This is so helpful.

Great exercise for generating new ideas!

Love the word bank and will definitely use it! Thanks.

Thanks for all the ideas. It’s always helpful to peek into the process that guides another writer.

I use a word bank so I can’t wait to add the Yellow Brick Road. Thanks for all of your ideas and templates.

This is fun, so creative and imaginative. I’m going to use this when I feel stuck! What a fun find your templates are, too. Thank you!

I’ve started my word bank! Great idea!

I’m a huge Wizard of Oz fan, so I love the yellow brick road analogy! Lots of great tips for generating ideas! Thank you, Lauren!

I love the idea of a word bank. Thank you!

Thank you for sharing! Angie Isaacs

MIND BLOWN! This is such a phenomenal exercise. Sometimes I find that a story that I want to write is already out in the world. I will use this word bank idea to see what other stories can work!

Great way to generate ideas or new perspectives. Thanks so much for Sharing!

I should get into the habit of doing a word bank. Thank you!

I LOVED the yellow brick road list! 🙂 such a great idea. 😀

Love to look for words…wacky ones! Thanks for the inspiration!

Your words are inspiration to me. Thank you.

Great way to brainstorm an idea! And thanks for the Template!

Wow these are great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing!

Thank you for sharing this helpful process. It is a great next step for generating ideas from a spark! Looking forward to reading your new book.

I will definitely be following the Yellow Brick Road with my ideas.

Thanks for your reminders about layers, Lauren-and for your templates.

Thank you Lauren, I absolutely love the way you have broken down this process. It’s incredibly attainable! THANK YOU 🙂

Wow! One idea can turn into many this way. Thank you!

Thank you Lauren, I just love the way you have broken this process down, it’s incredibly attainable! Onwards to the Emerald City 😉

This is such actionable advice – thank you. And I hope it’s okay, I’m adopting your writing goals: Read voraciously. Embrace feedback. Grow each day. Work hard. Be passionate. Write courageously. Touch children’s hearts.

Thanks, Lauren! I love a step-by-step list!

What an interesting creative process — great advice. Your ‘word bank wonder list’ really speaks to me, no pun intended. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for tying the yellow brick road to extending my thinking about my ideas/stories. Really nice way to think about it. Thanks again.

Thanks so much for the suggestions and for the worksheet to flesh out my ideas.

These are wonderful, concrete ways to generate story ideas!
Thank you!

This is a great way to sow and grow ideas! Thanks, Lauren!

Rejection Bingo Card! Hilarious!
Thanks for the post!

whoa! What a cool idea generator! Bravo!

Great idea!
I just previewed HOME FOR A WHILE on Edelweiss. It looks so lovely, and I have many friends who foster. I plan to recommend it to them!

This is a bookmark-able Storystorm post if I ever saw one. Think I’ll try this brainstorming exercise this weekend!

Thanks for the inspiring post… I’m now searching for a lion, scarecrow, and tinman (a dog in a bike basket would be nice too, but can’t be too greedy) to accompany me on this journey!

Really great advice, and I loved the templates. Thank you.

What a great way to spark ideas and add layers to a story. I will definitely be trying this out. Thanks so much for sharing!

Kudos to a word bank idea! Definitely going to incorporate that into my writing. Thx so much, Lauren!

This is so helpful. Love the idea of the yellow brick road and all of its twists and turns.

A great peek behind the curtain. Lots of helpful levers back there!

Love this post and your templates!

i love this route! thanks so much for sharing

Thank you for this inspiring post!

Amazing technique to generate new ideas! Thank you

This is a much needed story. Not only the fostering part, the part about discovering your strengths, and especially emotional regulation.
Thank you for sharing your process of developing ideas and making them into stories.

Big sigh. Why didn’t I write down that fabulous idea I had when I first read this post? Lesson learned. Will I change my ‘I’ll remember that’ habit?!

I love this plan and want to share it with my students!

I love this idea for coming up with new ideas! Thanks for sharing!

Lauren – thanks for a great post! I love your idea of using words in your word bank to help flesh out new ideas. Can’t wait to get a copy of HOME FOR A WHILE!

Thanks, Lauren! I loved your concrete example of how a word bank can become a road map for a wealth of new ideas. I also love how it can add layers to your story–something that can give it multiple hooks for a broader audience. A big sell for agents and editors!

I love the idea of making a word bank to use as a starting point for the magical yellow brick road. Also, the typewriter pencil cup!!

Love this! Word banks are so helpful.

Your template is fantastic! So much information distilled into one place. Thanks, Lauren!

Great tips and tools for harnessing creativity and organising our ideas. Thanks!

I’m not sure I could cope with this approach, I’m already a bit overwhelmed by my long list of ideas! Thank you for sharing your method!

Thank you for the post! I plan on following the yellow brick road all weekend to brainstorm ideas.

Great tips! I’m very interested in adding layers in my stories.

This is how I work my manuscripts! It really does spark the ideas. Congratulations on Home for A While. It sounds like a much needed book.

Loving this idea generating technique!

Ooh, thanks for sharing! I create word banks during my first revision of a manuscript but never thought of using it as a way to brainstorm!

I love all these ideas! I can really adapt them for my students too! Thank you so much!

I really enjoyed this idea! It is a great way to stretch out my story.

Great post and your resources and incite are always amazingly helpful and appreciated!

Ooh, I love the idea of a word bank for a particular story, and then following tangents from your word bank to see what else sparks. This is an idea I will use! Thanks, Lauren!

Thank you so much! What a great suggestion!

HOME FOR A WHILE sounds like such a sweet story.

Thank you for putting this into a simple checklist and sharing with us!
Great way to remember each and every time to hit all the marks on one’s MS.

Lauren, I love the idea of creating a word bank to flesh out ideas. Thanks so much for sharing!

Thank you, Lauren! Great post!

Hi Lauren, what a treasure to have just discovered you and your inspirational ideas and website! I just signed up to follow your wordpress site, and will definitely be checking out all those resources on your website.

I will also be looking for your book on emotional regulation strategies for adolescents–needing that these days with as a mom of an energetic, emotive and sensitive 13 year old!!

Wow–what an awesome post, Lauren! I love your word bank idea–and the idea to follow those words down the yellow brick road! Can’t wait to try this! Thanks so much for this suggestion! 🙂

I LOVE this strategy! This helps so much in creating ideas!!!

I love the way you made this concept sound fun…just follow the yellow brick road!

Great post. I can’t wait to use the templates. Thanks!

Thank you Lauren! Congratulations on your new book!!!

Interesting…. I look forward to trying out this approach!

Thanks for your post Lauren. I usually do make a word bank for my story, but I never used it as a springboard for more ideas. Fantastic.

I’m planning to Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Thanks, Lauren.

Thanks for the reminder to fill up a word bank. Sometimes I get so lost in the idea that I forget that the words I use to tell the story have stories of their own. Fun to explore.

This is a different approach- love the word bank and letting it lead you to ideas. Takes away a lot of the blank page scariness!

This was really inspiring, and I love the quote on your website by Shannon Hale, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that layer I can build sand castles.” This is magical. Thank you!

Such a great idea to get creativity flowing. Thank you!

I love finding as many associations as I can for a word that might represent a central symbol or concept.
For example, what do I know about stars? What do they make me think of?
Balls of flaming gas
Outer space
Ship navigation
Constellations, with classical associations
Star gazing
Shooting stars, wishing
The Christmas star, prophesy
… and the list goes on

This can help me think about which way I might want to take my story.

Love your word bank idea—thank you!

I love your suggestions on how to use a word bank and then generate ideas from each word.

Thank you for the writing exercise! Follow the road to new ideas!

Whoa, thank you so much, Lauren! I will definitely be using this process, and your templates are fantastic! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you, Lauren. I love the word bank!!

Great post and analogy. Thanks Lauren!

What a great way to spark ideas. I’m definitely trying this!

What a great blog post! Thank you for wonderful ideas. Definitely going to incorporate.

Great way to use word lists by using one of my favorite childhood musicals for inspiration!

This is a fantastic exercise! I’m sure I will use over and over again. Thank you!

I love this exercise – duh, why didn’t I think of that!

Thanks for the valuable tips and the template, too! Great exercise to go through for exploring story ideas!

How Fabulous! Thanks you so Kindly.

Great exercise. Thank you!

I love the word bank and yellow brick road brainstorm strategies! Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to try it out.

I love this idea and plan to “follow the yellow brick road” – what a game changer!

Great way to brainstorm, especially that last nugget of how this can also add layers to an existing WIP! Thanks, Lauren!

Love it!

Thank you for the very concrete steps! That is so helpful!

Did I really just come up with 14 different story ideas in MINUTES from this prompt? Holy moly. Thank you!

Awesome! And fun! I sometimes get ideas from what I see as titles. I keep a notebook of titles that is sometimes my Step 2 then that trip down that wonderful Step 3 to get to Step 4. 🙂

Love the word bank idea. I am going to use that tonight.

Great post — loved the suggestions for how to get more ideas out and onto the page!

Love the idea of word bank collection to generate ideas and will certainly give it a try. Thanks!

OOOO, fun ideas. Thank you.

Great ideas! Thanks!

I love word banks! I’ll definitely try this approach.

Thank you so much for all your helpful tips. I am looking forward to reading Home for a While. Just speaks to my heart.
Great job!

The word bank is a great idea. I also like to take a word and think of it’s opposite to help while brainstorming.

I haven’t tried a word bank. Thanks!

The word bank is a fantastic idea – eager to try this! Thanks for the great post!

Wonderful concept of how to generate new ideas. I can’t wait to try the process.

Thanks for sharing a great guide to more productive brainstorming!

LOVE the Storystorm template! Can’t wait to try it out!

Very clear steps and great downloadable. Thank you, Lauren! I look forward to reading your new book.

Thanks for this fantastic way to take brainstorming farther!

Your form is FABULOUS! Thanks for sharing and for the Yellow Brick Road prompt. I think your post is really going to help me dig deeper! Thank you.

What a fun way to brainstorm! Now I’m humming the song from the movie! Oh, and thanks for the template, too.

Can’t wait to read about Calvin! And I’m so thankful to see your idea-generating process in action. Oh, and the templates! Oh my! Thank you!

Thank you for this post, a really interesting approach and helpful template to help bring these ideas to life! And I can’t wait to read your new book with my kids, it sounds like just what we need right about now!

Lauren, thank you for your post and the link that led to all your wonderful forms. I downloaded several to put to use. –Kim

Thank you for sharing the steps you take for finding story ideas.

I am currently coveting your that typewriter pen holder!

I’m excited to use this story idea exercise! I also love that it adds layers to the manuscript.

Lauren, this is such a helpful post–I’m excited to try your Yellow Brick Road exercise, and your template worksheet is amazing! Thank you!

I love this idea – such a clever one. I’m definitely going to try it ASAP!

Thank you for these helpful tips, Lauren, and for the Storystorm Template!!

So simple and effective! Thank you Lauren, for making me feel like my rabbit holes and crazy internet searches are actually…um…reasearch!

Thanks for sharing, Lauren, your template is a game changer! Off to find my yellow-brick road…

This is such a great way to not only generate more ideas but also put some meat onto the bones of ideas that have already presented themselves. Thank you!

Thank you so much for the inspiring post! And I’m so looking forward to checking out HOME FOR A WHILE.

Great idea to do a word bank and flesh it out. Thanks!

I love this idea of branching out and generating lots of ideas.

Thanks for this post. Great idea, and I love your storystorm template! I can’t wait to read HOME FOR A WHILE

LOVE the idea of ideas generating ideas and not being linear. Thank you for this process.

Great ideas, Lauren! Thank you for your help.

Your process is exactly the process I use when I write poetry from a prompt. Glad to know it works for stories just as easily. Thanks! 🙂

Such a great idea: brainstorming through word associations, and then using that for layering too, wow, thank you for sharing this!

Thanks for sharing how you expand on a simple idea to generate so many different possibilities.

Can’t wait for Home For A While to come out. Thanks for all your wonderful advice!

Love your process and your templates! Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for your post! I liked the way the yellow brick road could generate ideas for layers for the current work in progress and/or ideas for different stories.

I so appreciate all the ideas for generating new ideas! Thank you!

Great idea! Thank you!

Such a great way to enrich the process! Thanks so much for sharing!

Along the yellow brick road

I love this framework for brainstorming! Thank you!

Can’t wait to read Home For A While!

I have a wordbank for every manuscript––probably my favorite part of brainstorming! I love your idea to take those words and expand on them (down the yellow brick road!). Thank you!

I have created wordbanks for my day job as a copywriter, but oddly have never considered doing so for my pbs. Well, gosh, what a novel idea! Thank you, Lauren!

Really like this technique and all the resources you offer. Thanks so much!

Love the detailed step by step to developing a picture book idea. Thanks for the post.

Thank you for sharing your template!

I’ve never done a word bank. Good idea!

I like this idea for discovering layers. Thanks for all of your templates, too! Looking forward to your new book.

Oh, wow, I think I’m going to get a lot of ideas from this! Thank you!! 🙂

Super helpful exercise! Thanks!

Thanks for sharing your yellow brick road.

I really loved this activity! I can’t wait to work on it some more. Thank you for sharing your template also. Looking forward to meeting Calvin in your book!

OOOO, I LOVE making word banks! Such a great idea for drafting- Thanks, Lauren!

Recording is SO important!

Thanks for a very helpful post!

Thanks for the inspiring post.

Really inspiring post! Thank you for sharing!

Love word banking a spark and then digging deeper. Great post.

Thank you!

I love reading your comments and hearing your opinion.

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