Now you know your genre, but you still have to figure out the story.
You can’t just throw in a dragon or some magic and expect to call it a fantasy without having a plot, character, and setting.
Your story needs meaning, or it’s nothing but crap thrown on a page.
I know because I have plenty of half-finished drafts sitting on my computer.
I have a bad habit of being in such a big hurry I don’t think things through all the way and end up stuck because I didn’t have all the details worked out before I started.
Unfortunately, coupled with my tendency toward perfectionism and procrastination, this means I tend to move on instead of trying to fix them.
I’ve learned it helps to know as much of the story as I can before starting, and as a result, I’ve made it further on my current series than I ever have before.
Over the years, I’ve discovered there are many ways to brainstorm, and we must choose what works best for us.
Not everyone will be drawn to same techniques or have the same results as another. So, take the following list with a grain of salt.
If none of these techniques work for you, but they do for other people, don’t worry about it.
Perhaps you need to come up with something unique to you and your personality.
It’s all a part of being an individual.
Find what works for you and don’t worry about everyone else.
What kinds of stories do you like? Fantasy with a touch of romance, an adventure in outer space, horror surrounded in mystery?
Usually, the stories we are drawn to are the ones that are the easiest to write.
Are there any time periods you are drawn to? These can be historical such as the classical or medieval periods, or sometime in the future.
Or you could do a crossover using time travel.
Do you like a particular part of the world? Perhaps you want to dive into a culture completely different from your own that fascinates you.
Use this technique to rack your brain for anything and everything you like, from movies to books to anything that holds your attention.
Put it all down.
The best stories draw on what we love and allow us to show our passions.
Ask What If questions
Take what you already know about your story then ask yourself “What If” questions building your plot from one point to another until you reach the end.
This technique can be used to build backstory, dialogue, conflict, and most anything you can think of.
An example using one of my stories:
- What if dragons existed?
- What if they had to remain hidden?
- What if dragons were really humans?
- What if they were shape-shifting mages?
- What if they once tried to take over the world?
- What if the dragons were hunted and thought to be eliminated?
- What if they survived and their descendants are peaceful?
Write down the first thing that comes to mind about your story.
Now, what comes to mind next? Write it down.
If you come to a point where you can’t think of anything else, just keep writing. It doesn’t have to be related to your story.
Let your mind wander and write down anything you think of until your mind is empty, and you can’t go any further.
Now, look through what you wrote for anything that pops out at you. You might even find something where you got off track!
Write down what you want to use in a separate place. Repeat this process as many times as you need to until you feel you have a complete story.
This concludes Part One of my brainstorming series.
Next week we’ll discuss things we can do in our everyday lives to draw out our creativity and produce ideas when we least expect it.
I hope to see you there!
Which of these techniques do you think will work for you?
FOR FURTHER READING
Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.
She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.
She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.
From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.
She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.
When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.