5 Brainstorming Techniques for Writers: A Guest Post by Linda Craig
‘Brainstorming’ is an idea-generating session where you come up with a plot, characters, and ideas that will define your novel. You can’t simply get out your laptop and start writing your next big masterpiece—you need to know the direction in which you’ll take your story. That’s where brainstorming comes into play.
Here are five brainstorming techniques you can use if you’re struggling to generate ideas.
Many times your personal brainstorming sessions need a little kick. It may not be that you’re not in the right frame of mind, or that your creative side is failing; it may simply be that your mind hasn’t found an idea just yet.
You can try quickly skim-reading a book from your library. Sometimes just the chapter titles are enough to get you going. Needless to say, you should never copy another author’s ideas. But this technique can spark your imagination and maybe even guide your impressions in an unexpected direction throughout the brainstorming session.
2. Use Contradictions
Let’s say your hero has the best intentions and great personal qualities. During the brainstorming session, look for ideas and personality traits that contradict the ones you’ve come up with. Your readers won’t identify with an ideal hero; they want complexity, and you can deliver this through contradictions.
Alternatively, if you’re completely stuck, start by thinking about what contradicts the main idea or theme of your story. If, for example, you’re writing about everlasting love, you can add characters who distort the traditional concept of love in every single way.
3. Read Similar Stories
A successful novelist delivers a story the audience has never seen before. You don’t want to follow the trends and write about vampires or dystopian societies similar to that of The Hunger Games. Readers will tire of repetitive trends and only respect the original work.
However, you can’t create a story that sets itself apart unless you know what’s already out there. This will be a longer brainstorming session that will help you come up with an ideal plot. If you find another writer has already covered ideas similar to yours, you can think of ways to improve your plot such as with an unexpected turn. That’s when you’ll have some real brainstorming to do.
4. Use Active Imagination
Most novelists understand that fiction writing is closely related to psychology, so you shouldn’t be too bored to explore the concept of Active Imagination developed by Carl Gustav Jung. It’s a method that requires you to find a quiet place, close your eyes, and imagine other people in the room with you.
Pick some of the writers you admire the most. They can be from any period in history. You can choose people you know, historical figures, celebrities…whoever you like. Imagine them as they are with their own personalities.
You then conduct a meeting, but you should allow your creativity and intuition to take over the show. What do they think about the plot? How would they develop the main characters? You’re not purposefully imagining their responses, you are simply allowing them to speak and take part in the meeting. If you really get into the spirit of it, there may be times when they interrupt each other or get into harsh discussions.
This technique will help you come up with fantastic ideas for your story. It may sound crazy, but try it a few times and you’ll be surprised with the ideas your subconscious comes up with.
5. Try Rolestorming
With this idea-generating technique, you pretend to be another person and apply their thoughts to the idea at hand. This is similar to a primitive version of Active Imagination, and it’s almost like a child pretending to be Captain America.
You put yourself in the shoes of another person and think of what he or she might say about your idea. It can be anybody from the perfect reader to Beyoncé to Stalin. It’s up to you. Rolestorming may yield no results, but it will help you examine the issues of your plot from another angle, and may even awaken your imaginative side.
The last thing a novelist is, is boring. The creative writing process demands an unusual approach, especially when you’re forming your initial ideas. These brainstorming techniques will help you dig into the deep areas of your sub consciousness. That’s where your best ideas are hidden!