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Monday, March 12, 2012

How I Brainstorm Story Ideas

"Where do you get your ideas?"

Everywhere. Seriously. I can come up with more ideas in an hour than I could write in a year. Most of them aren't worth writing, but the gems I find can really sparkle.

If you've never tried brainstorming, here are some tips:
1. Don't be afraid of being silly. Let your inner child out to play.
2. NO CENSORING. Absolutely none. This is not the stage to judge if the idea has merit or not. This is the stage to let every single idea, no matter how absurd, it's ten seconds of fame.
3. Brainstorming is easier with three or four other people, at least for me. Some people do better all alone where no one can see the weirdness that simmers in their brain. Since I celebrate mine, I like having people to spark my ideas and spur my inner nerd to new heights of bizarre-ness.
4. Write everything down. Don't say, I'll make notes later of the good ones. No, write it all down.
5. Set a time limit. Force yourself to go for the full time, don't give up too soon. If you're like me, you need a time limit so you don't get too carried away.
6. Lose your inhibitions.
7. Prepare some idea sparks, if you need them. An assortment of household items, pictures from magazines, random words on scraps of paper - Put them in a hat, bag, or bowl, and draw them out as you need to. The only rule is that each item has to spark at least one story idea before you move on.

Brainstorming is a great way to get your creativity flowing. Get a nice long list of ideas. Then, when you're ready to write something new, short story or novel, you've got a great start to spark the story to life. I've written stories triggered by the idea of dust bunnies battling a vacuum cleaner, the four horsemen of the apocalypse fighting rabid tumbleweeds, food describing the journey through your digestive tract, and all sorts of other things.

These ideas aren't going to be fully fleshed out, ready to write into a scintillating gem that will bring readers flocking to your brilliance. They still need some work. Take those seeds, though, and feed them a good dose of plot structure and character development, and you will never have a shortage of stories begging to be told.

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