Brainstorming Ideas

  1. Having recently started with my first draft, I’m starting to wonder if what I’m writing is what I want to write. Not the story itself (the basic plot and the core characters haven’t changed), but just a lot of the details. Every time I try and think of new ideas, I just find I don’t feel invested in them. I was just wondering how other writers brainstorm, hoping that I might come up with some solutions to my problems. Thanks.

Usually, I write down a list of ideas that appeal to me the most. Then, I narrow down the list, find ideas that will best suit my story, and get to work. A rather simple, but effective way to brainstorm. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, but I hope my practice gives you a possible solution. 

It depends on what and how big the problem is. 

If I’m stuck on where the story is going, I ask myself “and then what happens?” Sometimes I might have to close my eyes and picture it. There have been a few times when I’ve been convinced the chapter I was up to was suited for a particular scene, but when I try to visualize getting there, I draw a blank. Most often, it’s because I’m too far ahead of the story, and actually, that particular scene that I have in mind, is 2 or 3 chapters away and the chapter I end up writing is not the one I expected it to be – but it might lay groundwork.

If it’s an obstacle I need to overcome, I find taking my dog for a walk gives me time and distance from the novel to think, and I’ve come up with more than one Eureka!! Moments that way.

Sometimes I actually do brainstorm and end up with a page covered with a spidergram.

If it’s a possible scene that might fit into the novel later, I’ll write it down, but I keep in kind that the plot might not allow for that scene.



1. Make a list of things that could happen as the story is structured now.
2. Are any of those things interesting? If no, skip to 4. If yes, then go to 3. 
3. Would the interesting things break the main plot? If no, then brainstorming session successful. If yes, then go to 4.

4. Make a list of things that could happen if the setting/characters present were altered.
5. Are any of those things interesting?
 If no, skip to 7. If yes, then go to 6. 
6. Would the interesting things break the main plot after making the necessary alterations? If no, then brainstorming session successful. If yes, then go to 7.

7. Start over. If this isn’t the first time getting here, consider making minor adjustments to the main plot that would allow for more interesting events to occur.

Also, don’t stop with just getting a few good ideas. Some will be better than others, and I’ve often found myself having better ideas later on than what I first come up with.

Also, don’t stop with just getting a few good ideas. Some will be better than others, and I’ve often found myself having better ideas later on than what I first come up with.

:superlaugh:

Me too!

When I first started writing, I had a few good ideas about where I wanted the novel to go, but because it had been so long since the last time I wrote, it was very much like getting rusted gears to turn again.

Now I get good, or better ideas all the time, and the novel that I started with, might end up like the original Star Wars movies – with a prequel or three. 

Usually I like to write a skeleton of the story line and leave lots of space in between major plot points for idea changes. I keep this in a separate word doc (It’s easier to go back and make changes on the computer rather then on paper) and then come back to it every now and then and revise or fill in ideas. After that I reread through the skeleton to make sure that the ideas can fit into the story without completely changing it’s direction or if I need to add more in specific areas. Don’t feel frustrated if it’s not going the way you want it to, writers are always revising their stories to make them better and incorporate new ideas!

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