Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So You Want to Write a Novel Part Two--Brainstorming

Once you've got a killer idea for a novel, you may be tempted to sit at the computer and begin typing that opening sentence. The problem is, you won't get very far before frustration sets in (and the opening sentence may be a crappy one). The second step in the writing process for me--and a necessary one in my opinion--is brainstorming. Once I have an idea and I've written down as much as I can, I start to let things come together in my head. This process can be quite a long one. I brainstormed Cinder and Ella for about six months before I actually began a first draft. Here are some benefits to brainstorming.

1. Character development
I spend time just thinking about my characters, what they say in different scenes, what they sound like when they talk, the quirks they have, etc. It gives me a chance to get to know them before I attempt writing their stories. 

2. Plot development
I think a lot about plot during this time as well, and often the fun twists come to life at this point. I like to be thorough with this step and know exactly where my story is going--from beginning to end--before I invest any time in writing a whole draft. It helps to avoid plot holes so that I don't ever get to point "C" and wonder how I'm going to get to point "H."

3. Prevents writer's block
Because who wants that disease? If I have things mapped out in my head, I don't typically get writer's block. I mull over my unwritten book in my imagination until it is as visual as any memory. It makes writing easier, smoother, less frustrating.

4. Gives you that glossy look in your eye
Don't deny it. We've all been there before. When people ask you what you're daydreaming about, feel free to set them straight. "It's not daydreaming," you might say. "It's brainstorming. There's a big difference."

5. Helps make important decisions
For example, which point of view would be best for your story. POV rewrites are not fun. I need to be able to "hear" the voice of the story before I try to write it. It needs to be a strong one, the strongest possible, and that doesn't happen with hasty writing. 

I mentioned in my last writing post the importance of writing things down. Because things become so visual for me at this point, I don't have to write them all down, but some things I do. Often during the brainstorming phase things come in the middle of the night. I'm more likely to forget these things so I keep a notebook close to my bed just in case. 

What is your brainstorming process like?


Jesse B. Booth said...

Oddly enough, most of my novels have been started through NaNoWriMo. Because of that, I don't put much thought into that first sentence right away. I'm more worried about hitting 2k words! I come back to work on that opening sentence later, of course.

As far as brainstorming goes... once I get an idea and I have started writing, that is when I get most of my inspiration. I don't write just spur-of-the-moment ideas and throw them in, but I jot them down in a "brainstorming folder" on my computer to come back to. Yes... I have had some bad ideas come up, but I jot them down anyway because you never know if that bad idea could lead to a brilliant one!

Hope your writing is going well!

Melissa Lemon said...

I guess we all have the things that work best for us. I hope your writing is going well also.

-Jo- said...

I ramble. Usually on paper so I don't forget. A page will start with the motivation of the main character, which might lead to where they live, which might lead to their favorite ice cream shop, which might lead to how they accidentally get their magical abilities from a mix up at said ice cream shop, which might lead to the poor character having to be dragged all over the city to find the guy who has the cure, which might lead to people wanting the characters dead. Hey, that's not a bad idea. ;)