The year 2021 is upon us.
After a pretty rocky start to the decade… *looks pointedly at the corona virus*
…I think all of us are ready for a fresh start.
Usually, I kind of make fun a little of the way people start the new year with a flurry of resolutions to do new things and better themselves. But I thought that, after the craziness of the past year, many people would look at their lives with a fresh perspective. Time is short, and sometimes crazy viruses try to cut it even shorter.
With these morbid thoughts around to spur people on, they might finally find the motivation to start that book that they’ve been dreaming about for years. Combine that with the new year and buckets of new resolutions, and you’ve got people deciding to finally write their book!
And that’s where this post comes in!
With new writers beginning, I thought that they would need some assistance. So, I’m doing a post on one of the earliest steps of writing to help them out a bit: brainstorming.
Personally speaking, I hate this part of the process. I always feel like I must be some failure as a writer, because I can’t come up with ideas very easily. When I do, they have potential, but first I have to do that coming-up-with-them part. 😂 Over time, I’ve slowly developed a method to help myself brainstorm ideas – which I’m sharing with you today!
The first thing you need if you’re going to be brainstorming is a source of inspiration. I did a whole post on how you can get inspiration from Pinterest, so checking out that post is a good place to start.
Before you can sit down to start brainstorming anything, you first need to have a few ideas at least floating around in your head to work with. It’s usually pretty easy to achieve that, as that’s pretty much what makes up the whole idea you have by the time you sit down to work on it. 😂 But, as you try to build on these ideas, it’s also good to have a place you can go to try and nudge your creative juices in the right direction. 😉
Take those few ideas you have and start to flesh them out more. It’s a great place to start, because you know that these are going to be in the book. Figure out how they got there; what led up to those scenes? Then, figure out what happens because of them.
A lot of the time, these are kind of my touchstones in the story. I’ll be like “this new scene idea happens before that one touchstone scene” or “I can only do that if it’s after this touchstone scene”. These original scene ideas also tend to encompass the feeling, idea, and message of your book. Using them to build off of will help you create a book that has the same sort of ‘feel’ throughout all of it.
This point is, above all, my biggest one. If you want to start getting ideas, you have to prompt them within your own mind. The best way to do that, in my own experience, is to ask bunches of questions! You’re giving your own mind prompts, and pushing yourself to think outside the box to figure out how everything works. Even better, that’s setting you up early for some great cause-and-effect stuff. Why did this one thing happen? Because of this.
A very important – and highly missed – step to brainstorming is defining what you want… and then eliminating what you don’t want.
When brainstorming, I’ll suggest 10/10 times that you write down everything you think of, no matter if you think it won’t be used, it’s useless, or just a garbage idea. Everything should be poured out of your head and onto paper. But after you’ve done that, there’ll probably be quite a bit you need to sift through.
This is where this important step comes in.
You need to decide what you want your story to be like. This can be based upon the message you want to share through it, or just what the point of the book is in general. For example, you may want your story to be a fluffy contemporary, or a dark thriller. Totally different things.
Knowing what your book is like will help you keep sight of the big picture whenever you get lost, or are so deep inside the details of the story that you lose sight of that big picture.
And this is where the final step comes in: once you’ve defined what you want your story to be like, you can start eliminating things you don’t want it to be. If a scene doesn’t contribute to that big-picture, or what you want your book to be, then you don’t need it.
Could that scene potentially help you come up with more ideas?
Yeah. For sure. That’s why I think you should always write down all ideas. But when you start making big decisions – like what will actually be in the book – it’s much easier to come up with a story that you like when you know what to ignore in those final decisions. 😊
Trying to brainstorm a story can sometimes feel like you’re trying to force syrup to flow uphill. (As in, impossible 😛 ) But once you start getting a few specifics down that are scattered across the book, it can really start feeling less like an idea and more like a story.
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Do you like to brainstorm?
Where do you like to look for inspiration?
Anyone else excited to leave 2020 behind? 😂