Where is the best place for you to brainstorm?
I’ll tell you, some of my best ‘thinking’ time is when I’m doing a mindless chore, like working in the garden, or scrubbing the floors on my hands and knees. Sometimes even taking a shower. I came up with a good portion of By Love or By Sea while taking a shower. (I know you really wanted to know that!) You’d be amazing at how the mind can whirl while you’re working. It is the perfect time to allow your thoughts to brew!
Brainstorming is an important part of writing. If you are writing a novel, you should be brainstorming throughout the entire process. From before you write the very first word of your outline, to the very last edit.
Tell me this. If you are not a part of the world you are trying to create, how can you expect your reader to be a part of it?
So how is this accomplished?
I have a notebook for every book. I have folders on my computer for every book (that are, of course, backed up). It is a good idea to write a few things, even just ideas, every day. Don’t worry if you end up cutting them later on. Get the juices flowing! Get the story growing!
Where do you start?
Don’t feel like you have to start at the beginning. If you have an idea, write it down. You can figure out how it fits in with everything else later. Much later, sometimes. Start at the beginning, start with a character, start with a situation, it doesn’t matter. Just get your thoughts on the page.
I read a thing by Maria V. Snyder about writing her first book, Poison Study. She started with a question. “Who would choose to become a food taster?” Here is her thought process.
“Who would choose to become a food taster? My answer was “No one.” So someone would be forced to take the position – who? Not someone loyal to the king/Commander – he wouldn’t want to risk a good man – even though a loyal man might consider the job an honor. There is a good chance the food taster will die – so who would the king/Commander use and not feel bad if the person dies? Someone on death row. She will be executed anyway – her life is forfeit, waiting in the dungeon for execution. But how to keep that person from escaping? Butterfly’s Dust – a poison that stays in the body and if the food taster doesn’t show up for a daily antidote she will die. Great, but why is she in the dungeon? Execution is an extreme punishment – so she had to do something extreme like murder. Why and who does she kill? See how the story is taking shape? And the questions don’t stop until the story is done.”
When I first started, The Tiger, Unleashed, I wanted to write about a girl who played the piano and admired, through the window, a boy who work in her father’s vineyard. Did it end up that way? No. But some of the elements are still there. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll use the parts that died.
One thing I will tell you, I found inspiration for the first scene of The Tiger, Unleashed and the premise for Sweet Ivy while leading the music in church. The stories had been swirling in my head for a long time, and then one day, each of them came to life as I was leading the music.
So if you allow yourself to become a part of the world you create, your stories will come alive for your readers!