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Brainstorming Methods

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by danr62, Nov 3, 2015.

  1. danr62

    danr62 Sage

    Hey everyone. I wanted to get some advice on how to do some brainstorming. I have a basic idea of a story I'd like to write, but I need some help fleshing the idea out a bit more. What are some of the things you do to jog your creative mind and come up with ideas for story elements?
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I'm a fan of the Snowflake method, at least as far as working out if I have a story I want to work on. If I can't make it passed Steps 3/4 then I've probably not got the thing right and need to think again.
    danr62 likes this.
  3. danr62

    danr62 Sage

    Thanks, I've seen the snowflake method, but the other one is new to me.
  4. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    I use the journey model.

    So I'll brainstorm the Ordinary World elements. Then brainstorm all of the following sections.

    In other words, each brainstorming session focuses on solving a particular set of problems.
    danr62 likes this.
  5. Velka

    Velka Sage

    Lately I've been playing with using thematic brainstorming that Paula Munier outlines in her book Plot Perfect. It's a very different angle to take, but so far it has given me some great ideas and new ways to approach things.

    The basic idea is to identify your main theme, which can be broad, and then brainstorm all the ideas that pop into your head when thinking about that word. Those variations on the theme can become the basis of your subplots. this way your main plot (theme) and subplots (variations on the theme) all work together in a cohesive manner. Paula models this wonderfully using Pride and Prejudice. The gist of it is:

    Main Theme:
    Love - Elizabeth and Darcy need to overcome their pride/prejudice to find love

    Variations of the Theme:
    Fickleness - Lydia falling for every soldier that walks through the door; Wickham and Collins affections switching to someone else
    Lust - Wickham being a cad
    Jealousy - Caroline Bingley's jealousy towards Darcy, trying to break up Jane and her brother
    Brotherly Love - Darcy and Bingley's friendship
    Maternal Love - Mrs. Bennet wanting the best for her daughters (marriage)
    Self-love - Jane and Charlotte choosing what is best for themselves
    Infidelity - Wickham being disloyal to his family, Darcy, and Lydia
    Hate - Wickham and Darcy
    Unrequited love - everywhere in the book

    I don't know how this would work with a brand new idea, but using it to reexamine some of my shelved stuff has given me a new perspective on things and new ideas to breathe life back into them.
    danr62 likes this.
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    I use a workbook of about 70 pages that I print out for each novel-length project. Its purpose is to flesh out ideas and characters deeper and more thoroughly as I move through to the workbook's end.

    It can take a long while (1-2 months) to complete the process, but it's been working well so far.
    danr62 likes this.
  7. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    Is this workbook something you designed yourself? Or something you came across somewhere? Sounds like a good idea, either way.
  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    I just discovered a bunch of awesome workbooks a few months ago. This has been my strategy for my new WOP (I talked about it on the Writers Resources page) and it has been SO helpful! It has also taken be about 1-2 months to feel really ready to get writing.

    Some really good ones that I love are:

    Structuring Your Novel Workbook - K.M. Weiland ($8.00 on Amazon). 138 pages of tips and worksheets for planning.

    Writing The Breakout Novel - Donald Maas, which he says is actually supposed to be used AFTER the first draft is finished. but gives a lot of food for thought in the pre-writing phase. 225 pages of awesome, in depth questions and worksheets.

    This worksheets for the breakout novelist that I posted in my original post, around 70 pages of stuff for characterization and plot to be used before and during the writing process.
    danr62 likes this.
  9. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    Something put together myself. It contains a few methods of my own design, but it's largely a combination of techniques stolen from other sources that I find effective.
    danr62 likes this.
  10. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Ok, I read a lot.

    I also think about what I have read, and ask myself questions:

    Did this sequence of events have to go that way?
    Is so-and-so really unique?
    Cool! Be it a city, character type, or bit of magic. (Yeah, not really a question, but...)

    Then more thought.

    Ok, that is how that author handled that situation/city/cool thing on their world. Now, what about my world?

    Note: I have done a LOT of worldbuilding down through the decades. Upwards of half a dozen worlds, merged again and again to two or three (third is for a unique situation). About half of that is worse than useless. But usually, somewhere in all that, I can find a event or location or circumstances that a suitably twisted version of inspiring situation/city/whatever. And by the time I am through, said stolen idea is so warped and has so many additions/subtractions it might as well be my idea.
    danr62 likes this.

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