Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Brainstorming Ideas for your Novel

Salutations, my strange mysterious lovelies. We've been talking a lot about outlines and scene dissection recently, but tonight I want to take a moment to talk about brainstorming and how to drum up ideas to outline about in the first place.

After all, what good are outlines and guiding the fire if you can't even get the fire started?

Well, the good news is, you can. The bad news is, it's a skill to develop just like every other part of this nonsense.

Content Warnings: A healthy dose of irreverence, suggestions about where to mine for ideas, probably some swearing and an 0.2% risk of hallucinations of the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe giving you the most judgmental look on days you don't work on anything.

Alright, so how DO you drum up ideas for novels, anyway?

Personally, I have a hard time stopping them. They just happen. When I'm sitting at the computer, yes, but also when I'm at the grocery store. When I'm trying to sleep. When I'm in the shower. When I'm at concerts and don't have a #@$#%ing piece of paper or a pen to write with. Yeah, I know, I put swearing in the content warnings but button mashing symbols just looks more aggressive than the word 'fuck', don't you think?

The point is, ideas are everywhere. You aren't training yourself to find ideas, you're training yourself to recognize them for what they are, and to remember them and harness their power.

It's as easy as observation.

Have you ever seen another person chilling at the mall or outside of a residence and thought, 'well that's unusual'? Have you ever looked at an object in a store and thought 'what if this was magical'? What about 'that building is definitely haunted'?

Congratulations, you've made an observation that can then be turned into a story.

The point of speculative fiction is to speculate. Most of us are already doing that most of the time. We like to walk around places with our hands in our pockets pretending we're our friend's bodyguard or imagining what the other people around us are thinking.

Make an honest effort to focus on that for a couple of days. When you're getting an idea, notice it! Write it down. See where it goes when you give it attention.

Write down your dreams.

Okay, I know Stephanie Meyer did it and people are kind of iffy about the results, but in all seriousness dreams are a great place  to mine for ideas because they're already bent and twisted by your subconsciousness and that is going to take you somewhere different than your awake brain would have.

Listen to it.

See what happens.

Go browse TVTropes.

No, I'm not kidding. Tropes aren't bad. Everything you love has tropes in it. Yes, even that. Structure isn't bad, friends.

I am seriously suggesting you go over here and browse some tropes. Study them. Find the ones you like, use them as a springboard, think up your own subversions or play them straight. Find what you want to play with and then go do it!

If you know what you're doing, you'll be able to make it your own, and if you don't, you need something to practice with anyway. All across the board? I think it's a good idea. It has my endorsement stamp.

Fortune Favors,
Megan R. Miller

PS. Torchlighters  is still free until the end of Friday, so if you haven't grabbed your copy yet go do so now!

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