Ideas are like priceless treasure to a writer. They are the roots of our story tree and every apple is a subplot or plot that hangs from its overgrowth. Every writer gets story ideas, whether that be while walking the dogs or intense thinking to draw them out. They do and can be discovered. Here, I have listed effective ways of taking that single idea seed and growing it into a flourishing story tree through the act of brainstorming.
Mind-mapping is the most common and effective way of fleshing out a concept or theme and looking deeper into its topic. Mind-mapping works by writing your idea or theme in the center of a sheet of paper. Asking questions like ‘what if’ or ‘why?’ will trigger your brain to start thinking of possible answers to the questions you pose. Ultimately leading to a jumbled mess of ideas and possible story paths. Keep going until your A4 paper has very little white showing.
This method requires you to write whatever comes to mind. It could be absolutely anything from the washing you haven’t done yet, to the destruction of London bridge. The goal here is to write, simply write. I guarantee that you will write garbage, and keep writing garbage until you are struck with an idea. If you already have an idea in mind, then write about that idea. Include anything that you believe will thicken the plot, this includes characters, settings, themes, subplots and the overarching plot. This method of brainstorming is benefitted by timing yourself. You will be surprised how well the brain performs when it realizes its running out of time.
THE SNOWFLAKE METHOD
I have included the snowflake method here because I have heard numerous good things from friends who swear by this method and use it for their story ideas. The method was created by Randy Ingermanson and works best when you already have an idea in mind. It takes your idea and fleshes it out slowly, jumping back and forth from characters to plot until you have a detailed outline of your book. I won’t go too in-depth here about it but I will leave a link to the advanced fiction writing site where you can check out the snowflake method if you are interested.
This method is rather more basic than the previous methods. It is easy to do and you only need a word document (any writing software) or a piece of paper. Write your central idea at the top of the page and bullet point below everything and anything that comes to mind about that particular idea. This could be characters, theme or plot anything you think would thicken the story. I use this method for all my stories and so far it’s the best method for me.
Spending time and researching your idea is a good way of adding ideas onto your current work in progress. If your idea has a heavy amount of mythology in it, then you could look into greek mythology for more aspects that you could add, or, if it is a setting that interests you, then you could research that particular place and learn some of its history and cultures.
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