Are you looking to begin writing a novel, but have no idea where the heck to start? If so, I RELATE, and I’m here to help.
I have tried a lot of brainstorming methods, from working in a Word Document to writing in a notebook, and I’m here to share the method that is currently working best for me.
Let’s Get ‘Storming!
- Poster board or large piece of paper
- Sticky notes
- Pens or markers
- A snazzy music playlist
- A timer
1. Find some enjoyable music to play in the background. This may seem irrelevant, but playing music can help the process feel more fun and less like a chore.
2. Set a timer for at least 20 minutes, so that you have a concrete amount of time for brainstorming and brainstorming only. Try to write down as much as you can in that time without stopping; this will allow any and all ideas to emerge on the page without criticism.
3. It’s time to start writing. Your poster board or paper will essentially serve as a surface for your sticky notes, which are what you’ll be writing your ideas on. I like to use different colors to represent different categories (ideas for setting, character traits, themes, etc.); however, you can use one color if you prefer. I usually start with one idea in the center; for example, in this brainstorming session, I chose “finding identity” as my main concept. Then, I worked my way outward from there.
4. After my first session, when I have a full poster board of sticky notes, I like to take a short break in order to clear my mind. Then, I go back and I expand on the preexisting sticky notes, explaining why the theme, or whatever it is, stuck out to me, and how it might fit together with some of the other notes.
5. To see how my sticky notes fit together, I then stick them in color-coded columns on the poster board. This is why I love brainstorming with sticky notes; you can always move them or change them out for new ones (which I did a couple times). Organizing the sticky notes in columns allows you to see how they all fit together, and what you might want to possibly add or subtract.
Of course, this is just the initial brainstorming session to flesh out ideas. Later on, I’ll probably narrow these sticky notes down further and begin creating actual characters. However, sometimes the first planning session can be the hardest, so I hope using this form of brainstorming might help you along in your process of writing a novel.
Good luck to all of you novel writers during your planning process, especially if you’re prepping for NaNoWriMo 2019. Let me know in the comments if you have other brainstorming methods you like!