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Sobel318
12-16-2012, 09:17 AM
Today I began brainstorming for a new project. I realized, while brainstorming, that I have a strange and unorganized/cluttered way of brainstorming. I have a small coffee table in my living room that I sit at, on one side I have a notebook where I put bullet points (involving anything from character traits or maybe even detailing a particular exchange/scene or a setting even). Then I have a tablet that is open to an app called Timelines, where I make numerous possible timelines to fit with the ideas that I'm having.
Then, on a wall not-so-close-by I have a dry erase board where I put many temporary things.

The idea is, if I'm brainstorming about a character, for example, I'll write down what I need from him/her in the notebook, and put Timelines for the character (birthday, important events, etc.) in the tablet and then use the dry erase board for other things (if I haven't gotten a solid name or description or something like that).

That being said, I'm an outline-guy. I like to have a decent outline that, at least, guides where I need to go.

What are some brainstorming techniques you guys have? And do you have someone you bounce ideas off of? If so, how do you lead your conversations?

ladyleeona
12-16-2012, 09:38 AM
Today I began brainstorming for a new project. I realized, while brainstorming, that I have a strange and unorganized/cluttered way of brainstorming. I have a small coffee table in my living room that I sit at, on one side I have a notebook where I put bullet points (involving anything from character traits or maybe even detailing a particular exchange/scene or a setting even). Then I have a tablet that is open to an app called Timelines, where I make numerous possible timelines to fit with the ideas that I'm having.
Then, on a wall not-so-close-by I have a dry erase board where I put many temporary things.

The idea is, if I'm brainstorming about a character, for example, I'll write down what I need from him/her in the notebook, and put Timelines for the character (birthday, important events, etc.) in the tablet and then use the dry erase board for other things (if I haven't gotten a solid name or description or something like that).

That being said, I'm an outline-guy. I like to have a decent outline that, at least, guides where I need to go.

What are some brainstorming techniques you guys have? And do you have someone you bounce ideas off of? If so, how do you lead your conversations?

What you just described is roughly a million times more organized than my process, haha. (Not kidding, though.) My brainstorming session literally involves sitting and thinking. Finding that tiny flash of inspiration and going to the computer to start writing. I rarely write anything down in terms of planning (hello, pantser).

That said, I'm one of those people who pretty much always start with plot, then develop characters afterwards. So my brainstorming literally starts with me imagining a scenario (What if X happened during Y and Z), then discovery writing like a madwoman. (Also: my first drafts are obviously textual nightmares.)

I've never bounced ideas off anyone else really, partly because short of people on this board, I don't know anyone to torture do so with. And I usually don't have things hashed out enough to communicate them anyway. At least not for the first 30k or so.

bearilou
12-16-2012, 04:11 PM
Mindmapping.

Layla Nahar
12-16-2012, 07:10 PM
I use question & question, as well as lists. For example, as an excercise I'll do a 'title jam' - I'll make a list of 10 novels titles, or 10 short story titles. All that's important is to fill in the list, setting aside all ideas of 'quality'. Similarly, when I'm trying to think of stuff that makes my story work, I write a question 'Why would he do xyz' and instead of saying 'He could do this' 'He could do that', I make a list of at least three possibilities in question form, ie, 'What if he does this?' 'Could he do that?'. I write at least 3 even if I'm quite satisfied with the first answer because often if I push myself, I come up with something I like better.

victoriastrauss
12-16-2012, 08:54 PM
I go for many long walks--I do some of my best thinking while walking. When I've got a plot-and-character skeleton fairly complete inside my head, I talk the whole thing through with my husband--who is my go-to plot consultant (even though he's never read a single one of my books)--embellishing as I go. Then I do a detailed synopsis, embellishing further, and attempting to work out the plot holes, dead ends, and inconsistencies (and nearly always missing a large number of them, which turn up in the writing process and require more long walks and husband conversations)--10-15 single-spaced pages, depending on how long the book is going to be.

I also usually have to do a lot of research, which works organically with the brainstorming process--I start with a general idea of what kind of book I want to write, then research accordingly, which nearly always results in serious changes to the plot and the concept, which requires further research, which spurs more changes...

Kind of a mess, really. I always tell myself I'll get more organized, but somehow I never do.

- Victoria

Linda Adams
12-17-2012, 01:55 AM
There are quite a few books out there with brainstorming techniques in them like Creativity Now (http://www.amazon.com/Creativity-Now-inspired-create-happen/dp/0273724673/ref=la_B000APJEZM_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355694835&sr=1-2) and Tinkertoys (http://www.amazon.com/Thinkertoys-Handbook-Creative-Thinking-Techniques-2nd/dp/1580087736/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355694900&sr=1-1&keywords=tinkertoys+a+handbook+of+creative-thinking+techniques)that might be worth a look.

I'm afraid I don't do brainstorming myself. My muse needs no help coming up with ideas -- it's the focus I have more trouble with.

muravyets
12-17-2012, 02:21 AM
When stuck, I take a shower. Something about taking a good hot shower gets the brain chugging like nothing else. All kinds of knotty plot, character, and theme problems resolve themselves before my eyes in the shower.

I also outline incessantly. I start with an outline, adjust the outline as I go along, make a new outline for major changes in a new draft, and make mini-outlines for each scene as I write it. The first draft of my WIP is in notebooks larded through with sheets scribbled with the outlines of the scenes in bullet points.

Finally, when I am really super-duper stuck, I go hunting for inspiration in books and movies. That's when I'll go through obsessive marathons of watching/reading and taking notes. During these times I also torment the saints who make up my friends and family with desperate sessions of "bouncing ideas off them." I don't know how they put up with me. It's also how I end up with notes on plot solutions for a supernatural detective thriller based on examples from fantasy anime or 1930s musicals.

Siri Kirpal
12-17-2012, 02:25 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Typically, the muse provides me with a character and a situation, not a plot per se. Once it provides me with a bit more, I brainstorm with my husband, who's not a writer himself, but a big reader and a good guy to bounce ideas off.

Once things jell far enough, I write an outline down on paper. NOT on the computer. That gives me a good idea of what more I need, where the gaps are, which characters need to sign on for the project etc.

But in the interest of full disclosure: I've never completed a novel. The only narrative I've completed is a memoir. Which also needs most of the above, believe it or not.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Kerosene
12-17-2012, 02:44 AM
Mindmapping.

Ditto. I do it with stickynotes all over my desk.

Little Anonymous Me
12-17-2012, 03:43 AM
A basic flow chart is the first thing. Then I make a simple timeline. Then I go and plan out 30K chunks in scene by scene breakdowns. All of this goes in a lovely pink notebook that gets carried around to many, many places.

Becky Black
12-17-2012, 03:44 PM
With a big (usually A4) notebook and a broad, well-flowing pen. I write what I've already thought of and expand on it and new ideas pop up, for what's next, for why characters do things, for different ways to make scenes happen. I'll quite often have things like "And then Character 1 decides he'll go to see character 3 - no that won't work. They wouldn't let him into the prison. So what if he tries to sneak in..." I can get the ideas flowing by typing too, but paper and pen works better for me.

Discussing an idea with other people helps me to - just a couple of trusted friends, not random people on the street. :D Especially in the very early stages, where the ideas of still vague. Trying to explain them to others helps clarify my thoughts about them. And then they ask questions that I haven't considered. Heh, one time a critique partner asked "how come M & S can't get married?" I reminded her that S still had a husband she can't divorce, so she's married to him unless he dies. BAM! Straight away my mind starts working on "so what if the husband does die? That'll set the cat among the pigeons." That set off a whole chain of later events for that story, and it came from a throwaway answer to a reader question.

Paperback Writer
12-18-2012, 06:20 AM
I read this fantastic article on a similar vein: http://www.victoriastrauss.com/advice/world-building/

It's about not writing yourself into a hole. Personally, I'm going to follow the advice.

victoriastrauss
12-18-2012, 06:30 AM
I read this fantastic article on a similar vein: http://www.victoriastrauss.com/advice/world-building/

Thanks--I'm glad you found it helpful.

- Victoria

SianaBlackwood
12-18-2012, 07:04 AM
I tend to sit at the computer and vomit words into a desktop wiki until the characters get sick of my endless circling and start up the mental karaoke machine, singing songs they think have some relevance to their lives.

But seriously, Zim (the desktop wiki, not the Invader) is awesome for storing notes.

KalenO
12-18-2012, 07:11 AM
Huh. I kinda love the idea of compiling different possible timelines or ways of getting from Point A to Point B, and comparing them side by side like that.

Will have to try that.

*looks into Timelines app*