by Renea Guenther @ReneaGuenther
In our final week of this series, we’re going to discuss how to bring everything into one cohesive idea we can turn into a story.
At this point, we’ve probably come up with dozens of ideas, but not all of them belong in the same story.
It’s our job to sort through of them and decide what we can use now and what needs to be set aside for later.
But when you’ve got pages of notes, it can be a daunting task to undertake. So how can we make sense of it all without pulling our hair out in frustration?
This is my personal favorite because I can see everything organized by topic, making it easier to pick and choose what I want to use from each list.
I keep separate lists for every detail—eyes, hair, habits, races, monsters, setting, plot twists, bits of romance, etc.
When I first started using this technique, I would remove the ideas I was using from the lists. Then I realized I could easily mix and match them with others to create new stories.
Now I change the font coloring to show I’ve used the idea. I can still use it again, but the color serves as a reminder not to mix it with too many of the same, so I create a new story every time.
This is a technique for those who need something more visual. This can be done on paper or on your computer.
You take a central topic (something as simple as “my book”) and place it in the middle of a page. From there you connect your main topics, such as characters, world, and plot.
You then connect each of your ideas to one of your main topics, or as a subtopic to a previous idea. You continue to connect ideas until everything is on the map.
You can even create a miscellaneous topic if you can’t decide where something goes. However, I would recommend trying to connect it to the topic it most represents, so it doesn’t get lost or ignored later down the line.
Next, try to see if you can take each idea further with new connections until you run out of ways to expand.
The last step is to find ways for your ideas to interconnect. Perhaps they have something in common or require the other to function.
This can get messy if done with the same color lines as the rest of the mind map, so I would recommend using a different color if possible.
Bringing your ideas together
However you sort your ideas, you can now easily manage them and decide what you want to use for your story.
Take each idea and interweave it with the others. Decide how they interact to make the others stronger.
Apply the concept both directions whenever possible. Example: the world should affect the character, and the character should affect the world.
Make sure you’ve covered all parts of your story before moving on to writing. You should have ideas for characters, settings, conflict, a final goal, and something at stake as a bare minimum before starting to write your story.
This concludes our series on brainstorming. I hope you’ve found informative!
Did I miss anything? How do you brainstorm?