Despite the fact that most people brainstorm first, or at least talk about it first, I decided to leave it for last. All the other things I’ve talked about so far – outlining, researching, character bios, and world building – create the foundation of your novel. Brainstorming creates the land and the scenery upon which your foundation is laid.
You don’t have to brainstorm your story. You can simply use the foundation points to start writing your story. You can let it flow through you and was over you like summer rain. However brainstorming does give us quite a bit of material to work with for the story, as well as the occasional random idea (plot bunny) that we may not have thought of otherwise.
Even if you’ve already started outlining, or if you’re already to the writing stage, it’s never to late to do some brainstorming for your story. This is especially true if you’re struggle with writer’s block. All you need is a notebook, your favorite (non-alcoholic) drink, and a little bit of time. Personally, I always make sure I have some music playing too.
Once you have what you need to sit for about 60-90 minutes writing about miscellaneous bits of your story, just do it. Sit and think about your main character, or your antagonist. If something about the world mechanics is giving you trouble, then think about the kind of world your characters are in. Whatever it is about your story that you want to expand on, think about it, and let your mind wander. All you have to do then is write down the bits that stick out the most, or you can write down everything.
Once you have all this wonderful, if somewhat random, information about your story, you can begin to incorporate it. This means you can add it to the outline, or use the entire session to create your outline. Or you can use a bit of dialogue or a scene to spice things up, or keep your readers guessing about what’s really going on. How you use the fruits of your brainstorming labor is up to you.
There is no right or wrong way to create a story, or to write a novel, despite what some people may have you think. You have your own voice, and your way of bringing a story to life. If it works for you, do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t. (Although I would personally suggest making sure you try something for at least 2-4 weeks before deciding.)It is your work, and it is your creation. Make it something you can be proud of, even years from now when you’re old.
I wish you the best of luck in your adventures. May you always be motivated and inspired.