Brainstorming is generally the first step of the writing process. When planning a story, brainstorming helps to spark creativity and helps us to come up with new and original ideas or maybe even put news twists on old ideas.
Here’s a list of 5 ways I generally go about brainstorming story ideas:
I keep an “inspiration” board on Pinterest. I also use Beenokle’s Inspiration Gallery to gather collections of inspiring pictures. I like to browse through these boards until I come across an image that just “speaks” to me. Then I move on to my next brainstorming method.
I write down the first words that come to mind. If I use my inspiration board, I write down the first words that come to mind when I look at the image I selected. I write down random words until I come up with a concept, phrase, or even a single word that sticks out in my mind. Then I start bouncing ideas around.
Mind Mapping (or something like it)
I use Scapple, an application created by the awesome folks who brought us Scrivener to create mind maps of a sort when trying to come up with story ideas.
“It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software—it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. If you’ve ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does.” ~ Literature and Latte
Stream of Consciousness
Stream of conscious simply entails this: write. Write whatever comes to mind, even nonsense. Just keep writing until something coherent, something you can use begins to take shape.
Challenges and Prompts
Many blogs and websites give writing prompts. Litopia, a writing forum, has their Flash Club. Chuck Wendig regularly issues awesome prompts on his blog. There are even tools such as Random Story Title Generator 2.0 available. I attempt writing challenges/prompts every once in a while, just for the fun of it. I might not be able to use all of the pieces that I write in response to prompts but it gets me into the habit of brainstorming story ideas.
Sometimes ideas for stories just pop into my head without warning. Who doesn’t just love when that happens?
At other times, I have to put some effort into coming up with story ideas. This is where brainstorming comes into the picture.