Brainstorming – Getting Story Ideas

Usually I have no problem coming up with story ideas. Sometimes they hit me while I’m in the shower, or while I’m grocery shopping. I’ll see something and think: what if? Lately though I haven’t been reading or writing as much, and the ideas weren’t flowing. With NaNoWriMo just around the corner (only 2.5 months to go) I needed to start planning what I was going to write.

Yesterday, I decided to try a more targeted approach to generating a Novel idea. I remembered a lecture by Brandon Sanderson on brainstorming and rewatched it. He comes up with random ideas for four different parts of a story and then combines then in strange and interesting ways to see what falls out. The four pieces he uses are setting, magic/technology, character, and plot.

Last night I met my good friend, Cate Reads, for coffee and we tested out his method. I wrote down our various ideas for each section. For me the plot section was the hardest. Trying to find an interesting twist on a classic plot sent my brain in circles. We managed though and then started putting together random things.

We had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, and both came away with Novel ideas for November. The exercise of trying to figure out why a 87 year old drag queen (character) is at a medieval carnival that never ends (setting) got the ideas flowing in no time. It also helped to have another writer to bounce ideas off of as they popped into my head. In the end my idea uses a character and a setting from the lists. The technology and the plot are both related to ideas on the lists, but I’ve had to tweak them a little bit to make them fit with my writing style etc.

Are you doing NaNo this year? Do you have your idea ready to go? How do you come up with new ideas?

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