Re: Brainstorming Ideas For Your Story

#1
Hi friends!

I just posted a video on how to generate new ideas when you simply run out of ideas - Video Link

If you don't want to read this long post just click on the video above for two practical ways of brainstorming ideas.

How many times have you sat down to write a story with the most amazing idea burning in your imagination, and then...nothing. All the ideas just seem to evaporate? If you are anything like me, it happens all the time. Or maybe you have a clear picture of a couple chapters, a fragment of what will be your most epic story ever, but as soon as you finish those chapters you find yourself completely dry. Not an idea in sight.

This isn’t quite writer’s block, since you do have at least some ideas for your story. Instead, it is almost as if there are too many possibilities. Let me break down what is happening. When you find your mind suddenly blank, it is not because your brain has run out of ideas. That is not how brains work. Humans have this marvelous ability to make connections between different pieces of information, and when we write, this ability is on full display.

Think of it this way. A story is like a sky full of stars. Each time we move forward in our story, we are drawing a connection between stars, creating a constellation. Every connection we make shapes the constellation we end up with, creating our story. But every new choice opens up new possible connections, and closes off former possible connections.

So, what does this have to do with developing ideas?

Well, the reason that we run out of ideas is not that there are no more connections to make. After all, there are an endless number of possibilities for developing a story. It's actually for the opposite. Instead of no possible connections the problem is that we have too many possible connections. Remember how our brains are really good at coming up with connections? Well, we have a weakness. When there are too many possibilities, our thought process freezes. This is the same thing that makes people indecisive. If you have two choices of what ice cream to eat, you’ll typically make that choice way faster than if you have 10 choices. And if someone gives you hundreds of choices, it will be even harder to make that choice. If the problem is that we have too many choices, then we need to do one simple thing.

Reduce the number of choices you have. By reducing the number of choices you have you will trigger your brain into its optimal decision making framework, which will help you make choices about your story.

We can reduce the number of choices in two different ways.

First, identify the shape you want your story to take. Remember the constellation example? If you know what shape you want your constellation to be before you start connecting your stars, you’ll be able to figure out the path you want to take much faster. By clarifying your story’s outline, you’re setting up the boundaries, which excludes all the other possible choices, freeing your brain to make connections within the boundaries of the story.

Second, make one completely silly choice and don’t worry about whether it is a good choice or not. This is a hyper practical method that, if you can actually do it, will revolutionize your writing. Remember the thriller we were writing? The antagonist kills the heroine’s friend and we are stuck. Just make a ridiculous choice and start going. Maybe the heroine’s friend comes back as a ghost. Maybe the heroine falls in love with the antagonist. Maybe the heroine’s friend is actually an immortal blood sucking vampire or an alien. Maybe the whole thing is an elaborate murder mystery party.

See, you can always go back and fix things. So the goal is to just get something down. By making a definitive choice, you start to open up possible connections that your brain never considered, but more importantly, you close off paths that the story could have taken, freeing up your mind to work on those new possible connections.

As always, I'm super interested in hearing how you brainstorm ideas for your stories.

Re: Brainstorming Ideas For Your Story

#2
Thank you so much!

Your advice and thoughts on the process of collating thoughts and story progression helped clear up my muddled mind and the feeling of being overwhelmed. I'm new to writing, and I've been wishing to write - but, with a personality such as mine - to aspire for efficiency and the best outcomes - I've been feeling very frustrated at the brainstorming and plot outlining process most of the time when sitting down.

I feel this itch in my head to write, yet I can't pour out the ideas in a logical manner. My brain would rather analyze the information in my head, rather than just typing it down - the bad ones, the average ones, or the good ones - and moving on - fixing it later.

You helped me a lot with this. I managed to get some brainstorming down for a story I've been peddling in my thoughts for a while now - and I thank you a lot!

Re: Brainstorming Ideas For Your Story

#4

Ariana Wrote: Ahem, any cure for having too many ideas and too little time to write them down? Cause I have in my head at least 5 stories ready to pop on paper, and not enough time to bring them outside of my brain.

I write the general plots down, and sometimes read through them again to see where my brain takes me. Right now I'm beginning to write a few short stories based on those ideas, see if any of them want to turn into a full fledged novel

Re: Brainstorming Ideas For Your Story

#5

Luca Wrote:
Ariana Wrote: Ahem, any cure for having too many ideas and too little time to write them down? Cause I have in my head at least 5 stories ready to pop on paper, and not enough time to bring them outside of my brain.

I write the general plots down, and sometimes read through them again to see where my brain takes me. Right now I'm beginning to write a few short stories based on those ideas, see if any of them want to turn into a full fledged novel



I really like this idea. Typically, I don't have enough plot for a short story, so I tend to just write a couple chapters. Sometimes I'll start at the beginning, and sometimes I'll write the scene that is stuck in my head. Either way, it gives me enough sense of if the story has legs.

Re: Brainstorming Ideas For Your Story

#6

WildCard Wrote:
Luca Wrote:
Ariana Wrote: Ahem, any cure for having too many ideas and too little time to write them down? Cause I have in my head at least 5 stories ready to pop on paper, and not enough time to bring them outside of my brain.

I write the general plots down, and sometimes read through them again to see where my brain takes me. Right now I'm beginning to write a few short stories based on those ideas, see if any of them want to turn into a full fledged novel



I really like this idea. Typically, I don't have enough plot for a short story, so I tend to just write a couple chapters. Sometimes I'll start at the beginning, and sometimes I'll write the scene that is stuck in my head. Either way, it gives me enough sense of if the story has legs.

To be honest, I usually paint or draw whenever I have a new story in mind. That is why my DeviantArt page is full of sketches and small excerpts of nonexistent tales. But I always feel guilty for neglecting them... 

Re: Brainstorming Ideas For Your Story

#7

Ariana Wrote: To be honest, I usually paint or draw whenever I have a new story in mind. That is why my DeviantArt page is full of sketches and small excerpts of nonexistent tales. But I always feel guilty for neglecting them...



I really wish I had some sort of artistic ability. Art can really help in making a story come to life. Do you write any summaries to go with your art or are they stand-alone pieces?

Re: Brainstorming Ideas For Your Story

#8

WildCard Wrote:
Ariana Wrote: To be honest, I usually paint or draw whenever I have a new story in mind. That is why my DeviantArt page is full of sketches and small excerpts of nonexistent tales. But I always feel guilty for neglecting them...



I really wish I had some sort of artistic ability. Art can really help in making a story come to life. Do you write any summaries to go with your art or are they stand-alone pieces?

I usually explain what is going on in the picture and even write some excerpts describing the scene. But there is never a full synopsis. A good example would be that art from The Red Sands of Essel. One can piece some parts of the story together but not the details. (Oh, please ignore the partially sub-par art. I have improved a bit since then... I think). The main problem with Essel was that I actually drew one picture on a whim (the dancing girl) and from it a whole world was born. That is why I asked what to do with too many stories in your head. 

Anyway, have a look through my gallery if you like and read some of the stuff (the quality of English there is a bit sub-par though).

P.S: I have just started translating one of the stories from my DA Gallery (The Stone of Predestination) here on Royal Road as a side project, so if you wish, you can have a look at it sometimes.