novel writing

How to Effectively Brainstorm a Novel

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Writers of all genres welcome brainstorming sessions. The opportunity to discuss new ideas and solve problems in a creative environment is an amazing resource. Our minds kick down the doors that hold our imaginations captive, and the result is a collective stroke of genius.

By using the acronym, BRAINSTORMING, you can bring the whirling to a halt and anchor your writing onto a firm foundation.

Believe in yourself. You’ve been given the gift of writing, and you’re pretty good at it. You understand the craft, and you’re continuously educating yourself to add more tools and techniques.

Realistic writing is what sells. No matter the genre, your storyline must be credible with identifiable characters who react and respond according to the traits you’ve assigned them.

Analyze your basic idea. How can you grow your characters by making their goals difficult, perhaps impossible to reach?

Inspire your readers to attempt and achieve great things. Fiction is truth. Jesus spoke in parables and through His stories, people gleaned meaning and purpose for their lives. Don’t preach your message. Let the reader see who your characters are by the way they tackle life’s challenges.

Name your book and your characters. Why is this important? Because the title of a book gives the writer passion for the project. Who wants to wake up each morning to the thrill of working on novel X? In the same way, your characters deserve names that mean something significant in the novel.

Show don’t tell. Propel your story into action by incorporating body language, explosive emotion, purposeful dialogue, and unique settings.

Technique is essential to every story. To make sure your plotting is tight, ask yourself the following four questions before writing each scene.

  1. What is the point of view character’s problem or goal?
  2. What does the point of view character learn that he/she didn’t know before?
  3. What backstory is revealed? (Avoid in the first approximately fifty pages.)
  4. How are the stakes raised for the point of view character?

Organize your thoughts into a file that contains all of your notes: plotting, research, characterization, and where you obtained the information. Go a step further and write a lengthy synopsis. I recommend plotting every scene. This doesn’t stifle your creativity! You are the writer, and you can add, delete, and change whatever is necessary.

Research is vital to every credible novel. If your novel takes place in your backyard, then research the weeds there. Do your best to visit the setting. Interview those who have the same careers or experiences as your characters. Use the services of a library, chamber of commerce, Internet exploration, and any other means of research to root your reader into the story.

Motivation is the key to every successful novel. You were motivated to begin a career as a writer. You were motivated to read this blog. Your characters are motivated by their wants and needs. Discover your character’s drive to see what he/she will do to achieve those wants and needs.

The next time you’re a part of a brainstorming session, keep these three things in mind.

  • Brainstorming does not mean placing a roadblock on your mind’s ability to think outside of the world’s definition of logic.
    Leave the word “but” out of your feedback. There’s a time and place when the project is in editorial stage to offer insight and constructive criticism.
  • Use the word “and” in your responses. Open the pathway of free thinking with unique and unusual ideas. We never know where the road will take us.
  • I hope this helps you get your creativity flowing, and the desire to write will take over. You’ll be ready to position your nimble fingers on the keyboard and speed off on another adventure!

Your turn! What does an effective brainstorming session mean to you?