Friday, August 23, 2013

Sharing few brainstorming tips

I had read somewhere that Rowling had spent five years brainstorming the Potter series. In those five years she brainstormed each and every aspect of the seven books, did loads of world-building and made plot outlines for the series. No wonder then, the world was left spellbound by her books. I was mesmerized by her eye for detail.

Though I do brainstorm for my books (as I write fantasy) I don’t spend years or even months brainstorming, because if I don’t start writing, I develop the itchy hands syndrome. I need to write the story and side by side, I brainstorm. It may come across as a strange method, but it works well for me.

I am sharing a few brainstorming tips that work for me.

   1.  Protagonist. We can create unique characters by giving them a distinct personality or traits, or even a quaint way of talking or a different way of dressing. Unusual, individualistic and strong protagonists help stories. The protagonist can have unheard of hobbies ( like collecting lizard’s tails, wings of a butterfly) habits, interests, their choice of a career can be off the beaten track, they can have weird friends and fetishes, they can suffer from strange physical or psychological maladies, or they can have social inhibitions that prevent them from forging  strong relationships and friendships.

   2. Setting. An original and unusual setting hooks readers. There are several things we can add to settings: strange people, customs, habits, food, fauna and flora, animals and birds, rituals, way of talking and dressing, way of communicating, way of travelling, strange objects that belong to that period of time.

  3. Antagonist. The amount of attention we pay to the protagonist, atleast half the amount should be paid to the Antagonist, as he/she drives the conflict and provides tension. The antagonist should be given a literary makeover: he can be different from the antagonist haunting every other book. Antagonists should be powerful to be able to attract the reader’s eyeballs. We can give the antagonist plenty of qualities that will make him/her stand out: a sensory highlight where one of the senses is more powerful than the others, a cruel streak, a revengeful nature, a petty way of thinking or getting even, or a wicked sense of humor. Maybe we can make them megalomaniacs.

   4. Conflict. We can add unique obstacles and problems for a gripping conflict.

   5. Resolution. Happy Endings are important to give readers a sense of redemption. We can twist this by making endings happy but unexpected: the protagonist has reached his or her destination in an extremely unstereotypical fashion. The reader should be literally taken not just by surprise but also be rendered a pleasant shock at the way the story has been resolved.

Do you all spend a lot of time brainstorming your books? Have you got any brainstorming tips for us?




24 comments:

  1. Not coming from the world of books, I can only say that I write a short story in my blog if I am totally clear about the idea and the complete story (including the end). These stories seem better if they come to me, but sometimes I too try to develop the plot. What ever, the initial idea is very important - it can always be developed into a full fledged story.

    I am not used to scene description, character development, mystery/tension, protagonist/antagonist and other aspects of novel writing. But I am learning about them now - If not for writing novels, it will at least help me compose better blog posts :)

    Destination Infinity

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  2. Very valuable brain storming tips, to get a nice finished product be it a book a short story or a post:)Thank you once again Rachna:)

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  3. Just a note: remember that not every story must have a man v. man conflict. Granted, I guess in a man v. nature or man v. self book you can go into detail about the nature/self like you would with a standard antagonist, but it isn't quite the same.

    I'm on the lower end of brainstorming.

    My best advice comes from Brandon Sanderson: place character, setting, and plot ideas in a Word document titled Cool Things To Use Sometime.

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  4. I tend to spend just as long working on the outline as I do the actual manuscript. I don't go into as much world building as I should, but I do spend a lot of time on the flow of the story and how the characters all connect.

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  5. Sometimes I think I know what I'm doing but most often find I have to go back to school. The process is all about learning, but like Alex I'm more into the characters.

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  6. I like to spend about a month brainstorming a novel, sometimes longer if the novel is more complex. I like the planning and "playing" part of the outlining and plotting process. It gets me so excited to start writing it!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  7. I do a lot of mental brainstorming before I start writing, mostly about main characters and plot problem. The rest of the way is sort of a combination of brainstorming plus writing - mostly about what will happen next or (since I'm writing a mystery series), who else could the cuprit be, and why?

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  8. So busy struggling with my novel that I have had to break out and dabble in short stories for a while to keep my sanity.

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  9. Rowling must have loads of patience. Telling compelling stories is not for the impatient like myself. Great tips, as always.

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  10. Hi friends, thanks for chiming in. I must confess that I don't spend too much time brainstorming, I like to plunge into the story straight away, the brainstorming happens side by side.

    Have a lovely weekend.

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  11. thank you for sharing such valuable tips about writing Rachna

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  12. Thanks, Rachna, I just live from day to day, hard to live with someone suffering.

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  13. I tend to figure it out as I go along.

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  14. Only two of my books have actual antagonists. For the most part, the main characters were their own antagonists.

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  15. I should probably brainstorm more.I get an idea and then run with it and think more on it as I write. Not good!

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  16. Ms. Rowling did a fabulous job brainstorming because her books are out of this world. I also brainstorm- but definitely not for years! I like to map out my characters, setting, and plot points. The advice you gave was so helpful and gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing! :)
    ~Jess

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  17. I brainstorm for a few weeks or longer since I'm a plotter.

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  18. I have a tendency to ask "what if" and that seems to be a good way for me to start brainstorming about characters, setting, customs, and even endings . . . however, this is an area I need to continue to work on as I write.

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  19. I spent 6 months just brainstorming stuff for my fantasy series, but in the end, the real brainstorming came during the drafts I wrote.

    In fact, I'm still watching bits and pieces of the series fall in place. And the more they do, the more I love it. ;-)

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  20. I like to at least come up with some interesting twists and turns before I start writing. Knowing the ending always helps.

    mood

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  21. These are excellent tips especially for anyone who is world-building with a complex story with many characters. I have a lot of storms in my brain, but I don't get too involved in brainstorming over stories other than replaying them in my mind.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  22. Great tips. I'm mainly a pantser, but I will brainstorm as I go along, mainly to work out problems rather than character traits etc. But putting in thought to these things is always a good idea.

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  23. Great tips, Rachna. I definitely brainstorm, especially when I'm stuck. It's lots of fun.

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  24. These are great tips. Sometimes I try and write something else as a means of brainstorming. I almost always come up with ideas when I focus on another project! :)

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