The Subtle Art of Brainstorming

I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself sitting in front of my computer, staring at the black cursor as it blinks upon a completely blank page, willing something worth writing about to pop into my head.  But the truth is, it won’t.  Through experience, I’ve discovered that I write best when I go into a session with a clear idea of what I plan to write.  (A session is what I call the periods of time I set aside to focus on just writing.)  Whether it’s a single scene or an entire chapter, I need to know what’s going to happen before I plop myself down at the computer with the intention of writing.  Otherwise, that blinking cursor won’t move an inch.

It would make sense then, that the first step in writing a novel is coming up with an idea.  This is the first of many choices I make when I write.  I need to choose something that my readers will connect with—something that will grab their attention and hold it until the last page.  I need to make my characters not only relatable, but flawed and unique.  I need to create a setting that is both remarkable and believable, so it paints a vivid picture in my reader’s head.  I need to develop a conflict that will make whoever reads about it feel connected to the story I’m trying to tell.  And finally, I need to choose something that I will enjoy writing, otherwise I know I won’t have any hope of finishing it.

As teenagers, my friend, Will, and I created our own world.  To this day, we continue to develop and expand upon its lands, its people, its magic, and most of all, its stories, but there was a time when none of it existed.  At least, in our minds.  We both loved to read and from this passion stemmed another: an unquenchable thirst for adventure.  We enjoyed exploring new places deep within the woods and losing ourselves in whatever stories we felt like telling.  Whether we were two hunters lost in a dangerous forest, or two knights sent to retrieve a princess from an evil sorcerer, our childhood was never devoid of fantastic quests and adventures.  There came a time, however, when we decided we were “too old” for such games and refocused our creativity into something more productive.  To this day, we still help each other in any way that we can.  Whether it’s running ideas by each other, or asking for an opinion on something we’ve written, we’re always eager to help the other along.  What I’m trying to say is that brainstorming isn’t something I can do while sitting in front of computer, or even by myself, for that matter.  Inspiration comes from experience, which is honestly true of anything.

Because I’ve been on a teen fic(tion) kick as of late, I’ve decided to take a stab at the genre and see where it takes me.  I’ve had the rough outline of an idea bouncing around inside of my head for a while, but it wasn’t until this opportunity presented itself that I decided to give it a whirl.  I suppose I’m cheating if I use a concept I’ve been toying with for a while since it means I’m not necessarily starting from “scratch,” but most of my stories begin this way.  I start with half an idea and let inspiration fill in the rest.  I plan to construct a city and create characters based off of places and people from my real life, then tie them into the story I’m writing.

So, what’s the idea I’ve come up with?  Well, books with teenage protagonists, such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and the Olympians, are some of my favorite to read.  This makes me certain I’d have fun writing a similar story.  Then I got to thinking, what if I built a story around a teenage male protagonist with a unique ability, just like these.  It will have to be unique, because this type of story has been written many times over, but I believe I can do it.  That’s all I’m working with now, but I have the first scene already envisioned in my head and I’m eager to begin writing it.

Expect to read the beginning of this project soon, which should be sometime within the week.  I’m really excited to start, so I’ll leave you here.  Just remember what I said.  Inspiration comes from experience, so get out there and explore everything that your world has to offer.

Until next time,

A fellow writer.