Thursday, May 28, 2009

4 Reasons Brainstorming is Essential to Good Writing

As writers we hear a lot about brainstorming - how and when to do it especially. But there are many reasons it's emphasized. I didn't used to give my writing the brainstorming it deserved. But over time I discovered how much even a little enhances the depth and quality of my work. Here are four prime ways constant brainstorming will improve your fiction as well.

1. Stronger Characters
There is nothing like weak character development to ruin a story. Prevent yourself from falling prey to it and learn everything you can about your characters. It doesn't matter if most of those details go unrecorded in the finished story. What matters is that you needed to know them to portray your characters faithfully. Remember, your readers can't know your characters unless you know them.

2. Original Plotlines
The more brainstorming you do, the more original your writing will become. Many times our ideas start off very simply - and obviously. But the more you think about it and explore options and alternatives, the more likely that you'll stumble across that "aha!" moment.

3. Clearly Defined Conflicts
Conflict is necessary to any story but without enough brainstorming the external and internal conflicts may get muddled down. You need to know what your characters are contending with. And again, brainstorming will help you get down to the heart of the conflicts. You'll produce intriguing ones instead of the stock conflict that we've all seen before.

4. Perfect Details
Life is in the details and so is good fiction. Characters, settings, plots - they all improve with attention to detail. But the details don't usually come unless you search for them. Brainstorming will take your writing from a lot of vague descriptions to specific character traits and setting details that will make both live on the page.

You don't have to sit down and make a formal session of brainstorming every time. Muse on your story and characters when doing mindless activities like dish washing. Think about it before you fall asleep at night. Play "what if?" while you run errands. There are lots of little moments like this that can become productive brainstorming times. When you do sit down to work, you'll have much more to work with. So don't underestimate the benefits of brainstorming.

Try This >>
Take one character and write down everything you know about him or her. Then, focus your brainstorming efforts on what you don't know. Spend 20 minutes listing or clustering the possibilities. You may be surprised and delighted by what you discover!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tips for Organizing Your Ideas

If you're like me, you have several story ideas bubbling at once. In some shape or form, it's a good idea to organize those ideas. You don't want to lose those precious character tidbits, the brief scene you scribbled on a sticky note, or that brilliant plot twist you wrote down in your main writing notebook. There are just as many organizational methods as ideas so work with what works for you. Here are a few ways to keep your writing free from chaos.

Create separate files. Create a file for each idea, keep it somewhere handy, and prevent those scraps of paper from disappearing.

Create separate computer folders. Same idea as above, just digital. You may want to organize further and create a new file for each subject (e.g. setting, plot, dialogue).

Keep separate notebooks. Get a notebook for each idea and use it only for that concept.

Use binders. Either get one binder for each idea or use just one and separate ideas with tabs.

Use accordian files. Get one for each idea and use the tabs to categorize further (e.g. setting, plot, dialogue).

Combine two or more of the above. I have about four ideas right now that are in some stage of development. My primary idea has its own notebook. The other ideas have file folders that I keep in easy reach. Then, I have my main miscellaneous writing notebook that I use for writing exercises, general brainstorming, and stray ideas. When another concept starts forming into something more solid, it will get its own file.

Try This >>
Spend a few minutes examining your writing organization system. Is it working for you? Do you know where ideas from brainstorming sessions, focused exercises, and moments of inspiration are when you need them? Do you have trouble sticking to the system you have in place? Taking a little time out to tweak or even overhaul your system can make a big difference in productivity when it comes time to write.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Writing Tip: Incubating Ideas

Sometimes before you start writing or outlining a new idea, give it time to incubate. Brainstorm, whether in your head or on paper, letting the idea mature. Now, at other times, you just need to dig in and start working for the idea to grow. But if you feel that it's not time for that yet, wait. Listen to your gut. Dwell on the idea, letting your mind wander over the possibilities. A single idea that's rather plain can sprout into an exciting concept if given the chance. So be patient and let that good idea become an awesome one.
Related Posts with Thumbnails