Monday, February 15, 2010

Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Brainstorm

Now that you analyzed yourself to the point of no return, you’ve hopefully come up with an general idea for what you would like to write. Let’s say you’ve decided to write a romance novel about a former zoo-keeper who must find a way to rescue her favorite monkey from captivity. You’ve found a way to combine some of your interests, and now all you need is to develop your storyline. Some Brainstorming methods I have come across that have worked for me include:

1. Free writing.
I know we’ve all been forced to use this method in some form or another since we started grade school, but there is a reason for that—it works. Just sit down, start writing and don’t stop. Even if the bulk of what you’ve written is completely nonsensical, I can guarantee that there will be some nugget of genius tucked within the gibberish that you will be able to use. It might even be the once sentence that inspires you to write an entire chapter.

2. Journal.
If you already keep a journal , look through what you’ve already written. Is there a particular passage you find funny, interesting, saddening, maddening? Is it something you can elaborate on or create a story around? It can be an amazing catharsis to write about key moments in your life and analyze them. What would happen if you’d said something different? What if you’d have been sick that day and missed the experience entirely. These real-life adventures can make for even better stories, and best of all, you can alter them any way you want to. Give your arch-enemies their comeuppances or crown yourself homecoming queen; the decisions are all yours to make!

If you don’t journal, I really suggest you start. If writing is something that interests you, journaling is an excellent way to practice. Besides, looking back at old entries can be entertaining, enlightening, and really helpful when want to flesh out a character in your novel.

3. Observe and Record.
This method really works for me, but I think it mostly has to do with the fact that I am an incurable daydreamer. Every little thing sets me off. Whether it’s a broken doorknob in a university classroom or a person with a casted leg walking down the hall, I often find myself crafting stories about them. What if a student crept in and slept overnight in the classroom with the broken knob? Would they be able to make it through the night without being discovered? Why are they there in the first place? Before I know it, I have an entire storyline floating around in my head, and if you simply teach yourself to be observant this could really work for you too!

Just as easily as I get these ideas, however, they can disappear. So, for creativities sake, I carry around a spare notebook and write these ideas down when I get the chance. Sometimes I look back at them and realize they are utterly ridiculous, but every once in a while a good one will stick.

Just remember, jotting down a funny story or scene that you’ve witnessed or summarizing a conversation you’ve overheard or were part of takes all of five minutes and can become infinitely useful in the long-run.

Go ahead! Get out there and try one or more of these out and let me know how it works for you! Also, be sure to let us know of any other methods you find useful!

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