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by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Okay, it is Day 5 of Storystorm so hopefully by now you are getting in a groove and ideas are starting to flow. But if not…don’t panic. There is something you can do.


You can borrow from books, fairy tales, TV, film, nursery rhymes, songs and more.

But the best place to borrow from (or even outright steal!) … is from YOURSELF.

Unless this is your first-ever attempt at story writing, you’ve got a potpourri of past ideas to pore over, ponder and pick apart.

Check your files. Your notebooks. Your sketchpads. Review Storystorm lists. Look at manuscripts. Reread old drafts. New drafts. Unfinished drafts.

  • Reuse a character

Have you already created a character (or two) that you love? Write another story for him/her/them. It can be a sequel or a prequel or something entirely unrelated.

  • Recycle a plot

Do you have a storyline that still resonates with you, but perhaps isn’t marketable enough on its own? Keep the essential arc and change the characters. Replace your MC with a ninja or a narwhal or whatever will give it new life.

  • Repeat (it’s okay to cheat!)

Tara is very lax about the rules here. If an idea from the past still appeals to you, put it down again! (Hint: If you see an idea pop up over and over, that story definitely wants to be written!)

Over the years, I have gotten quite good at this thievery thing.

I’ve stolen from my own Storystorm lists.

In 2009, I put this down:

25) fractured fairy tale with a surprise twin? Goldilocks has a twin sister or Little Red? (Little Pink?) Tawnylocks?

I never attempted a draft.

In 2010, I still found the idea of a surprise twin to be appealing. This time I nailed it!

11) ***Twinderella–a fractioned fairy tale (Cin and her sis share everything. Each does half the chores, half the washing, half the ironing, and each takes half the fairy godmother’s goodies, but when they each spend half the night dancing with the prince, they have a problem.)

I’ve filched from my own manuscripts.

My second story ever was about two animals who lose each other while out in the woods. Since every kid has lost his mom at Target at least once, I really liked this premise. But it just didn’t seem to have enough of a hook.

Fast forward to Storystorm 2014. I was looking back at my 2013 list and I saw I had one truck idea after another. I really did want to write a truck story, but none of the plot lines seemed right. That’s when it dawned on me.. What if I took my lost story and changed the characters to trucks? Mack and Rig are offroading when one of them takes a wrong turn.

This led to a two-book deal with Scholastic for TWO TOUGH TRUCKS.

So, go ahead. Pinch. Poach. Pilfer.

The property belongs to you, so you might as well plunder away!

Corey Rosen Schwartz is the author of many rhyming picture books, including THE THREE NINJA PIGS and NINJA RED RIDING HOOD. She lives in Warren, NJ with her two kids and her better half. Corey hopes to one day have grand-twins. Visit her at and follow her on Twitter @CoreyPBNinja.  

Corey is giving away of copy of her newest book, TWINDERELLA.

Leave ONE COMMENT on this blog post to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!


by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Most of my picture book ideas have come from my own children. Unfortunately, they are getting older so I am a little short on material lately. I can no longer rely on them to say things like “Mommy, come quick, Josh is in the oven!” or “Today my class is going to a burrito farm!” (Best I can tell, that was a trip to an arboretum?)

Now that eavesdropping isn’t effective anymore, I need other strategies for generating ideas. One method I frequently employ is titlestorming. I sit down with my writing partner, Becky Gomez, and we try to come up with a list of fun titles.

I am a very language-driven writer (as opposed to plot or character-driven) so very often these titles incorporate wordplay.

There are all sorts of ways to play with words.

Clever Combos

One option is to create a new word by combining two existing words. Tara, the queen of wordplay, did this with her debut title THE MONSTORE. Other fun fusions include ORANGUTANGLED by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, THE Aaron Zenz, and MOOSETACHE by Margie Palatini.

monstorefrontcover orangutangled hiccupotamus1moosetache

Hokey Homonyms

Another way is to replace a word with its homonym. In 2009, I came up with the idea TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS. But I didn’t move quickly enough. Sudipta beat me to it. Other examples of this include Keith Baker’s LMNO PEAS and Tara’s upcoming 7 ATE 9.

tywrecks lmno-peas 7ate9cover

Go for the Rhyme

This, of course, is my favorite technique. In 2010, I came up with GOLDI ROCKS & THE THREE BEARS and TWINDERELLA: A FRACTIONED FAIRY TALE. But it also works with stories that are not fractured fairy tales. Here are just a few that come to mind:


Get Crazy Creative

Then there are all sorts of crazy ways to get creative that defy categorization. Invent words. Experiment with spellings. Play with pronunciations. Take a figure of speech and make it literal.

yeti poultry hogwashpete-pizza

So, give those titles a twist. Let the syllables slip, slap, slide off your tongue and see what sort of fun comes out.

corey-author-photoCorey Rosen Schwartz is the author of several rhyming picture books and fractured fairy tales., HENSEL & GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS, in which two chicken sisters defeat a fox and rescue their parents, is the latest of her punny titles. Corey has no formal ninja training, but she sure can kick-butt in Scrabble. She lives with three Knuckleheads in Warren, NJ. 

Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter @CoreyPBNinja.


Corey is giving away a signed copy of HENSEL & GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS.


Leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once on this blog post. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!


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