If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have read my Creativity Tips about how to boost idea generation and/or brainstorm alone. The third step of my NaNoWriMo prep takes full advantage of these tips.
Now that I have settled on one idea, it’s time to take it from one-liner to outline. However, in order to get the best outline, I don’t jump to that before I’ve given tossed enough ideas around.
Back in front of my trusted Notebook, I jot down cool stuff that could happen in the story. I don’t try to put anything in chronological order. In fact, I avoid it like the plague as it is conducive to linear thinking and what I want at this point is lateral thinking (freely jumping between seemingly unrelated ideas). There’ll be time to organize the stuff later.
Anything that could potentially be a plot point is worth thinking about:
- What type of obstacles would really challenge this character?
- What life could he have? Friends? Family?
- Which situation could convey different aspects of the theme?
- What would a mental breakdown look for that character? How could he get there?
In the end, I have several bits and pieces of scenes, situations, dialogue snippets, plot twists and hints at both characterization and world-building. Some of them are improvement on ideas that came before in the process. Some others wouldn’t hold up to the least bit of fact checking. Several of them explore avenues I wouldn’t have thought about if I had tried to outline right away. Like everything in the Notebook, it’s a mess and it’s okay.
By the time I was done with this, Tag, You’re Me! wasn’t just a one-liner anymore. I have a better handle on the tone of the story, the obstacles of the main character’s arc and the key components of the main plot. As exciting as it would be to start organizing this right away, I close the Notebook and give myself at least a day to let this rest and simmer in the back of my mind before I move to the next step.
And you? How do you get started on a new story? Are there things you like to think about first? Do you go in a lot of details or just get jump right in?