Brainstorming… the creative process behind the novel

Brainstorming: is a group or individual creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by it’s member(s.)

Everytime I start a new novel, brainstorming is something I do throughout creative process. Now, while it’s great when you can spin ideas of of someone, I normally go through this process alone, and keep it between me and my Moleskin notebook. Sometimes after I’ve fully thought it over I’ll share a little piece of it with someone just to see their reaction. If it’s good, then I know I should keep going with the current plan, if not, then some rethinking might be order.

Key moments for brainstorming:

  1. When coming up with the initial synopsis.
  2. Chapter outline (which always expanse when new characters, situations are necessary… because who knows what twists and turns a story will take!)
  3. When new characters are introduced, you have to work them into the storyline either briefly, or if they are going to play a bigger role in following books, you weave them in more frequently.

Example:  I recently decided to add a future love interest into the second spy novel I’m working on (Truth and Lies) which follows the still unpublished (and unsubmitted to any agents I might add) The Paris Affair.

Results: I had to rework some of the upcoming chapters to include the new character (Eva) and in the process the windy, twisty road that is a spy novel just became a little more treacherous.

Ways to lay out your ideas:

  1. I start of first with a blank sheet of paper, especially when I don’t know exactly where I’m going to end up with the particular brainstorming session. Once the ideas are firmly in place, only then do they go in the Moleskin.
  2. If I know the basic ideas, but I’m not sure what order I want them in yet. I would go either the index card route (also useful when creating the dreaded, but essential chapter outline) or another favorite route (if you ideas aren’t fully fleshed out) you can go the sticky note route.
  3. Once you’ve gotten all the ideas out, the chapter outline laid out I like to keep both the brainstorming layout with key facts, locations etc handy. (Especially since sometimes for unforeseen reasons you have an extended break between the writing and need a quick refresher.)

Well, I hope this little (picture-less) post was helpful!


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