Sunday, February 18, 2007

Brainstorming...digging deeper

I love to brainstorm...it's great to be able to toss ideas out and keep pushing the envelope. Every genre can play. And here's the secret...whether brainstorming a complex suspense plot, or a sweet romance, the key common element is CHARACTERS.

When I start to brainstorm, despite knowing I'll get to the plot eventually, I like to start with my heroine. What's she look like? What's her name? What's she do? Now to move onto the good stuff....what's her internal goal? How can I give her conflict in reaching that goal? What's her external goal? Can I use something of her internal issues to hamper her reaching her external goal? Hmmm.....now let me think of a hero. His goal, I think I'll make totally opposite of hers. Yeah, that'll be fun. His internal goal the exact opposite of hers. Oh, but for fun, let's make them both striving toward the same external goal. Hmmm....this could be interesting.

But let's back up a minute....heroine's internal issues....what in her past made her feel this way? Decide to have such an internal goal? Hmmm...let's take that and make it something the hero can't/or doesn't think he can accept. Oh, yeah, let's mess them up royally. Now let's jump into his backstory....why can't/won't hero accept this part of her past? Something happen to him--his family--a friend?

Now, having this, I normally fill out an indepth character synopsis on both heroine and hero. Ready to start plotting? Nope. We're just getting started.

In mystery/suspense, gotta have a villian. Often have them in other genres, too. So let's figure out who wants the same external goal, but would go about attaining it in a bad way. LOL Why does villian want it? What will he do to get it? What has he already done to succeed? Hmmm...now, he's painted as a really bad guy. Maybe should give him a couple of redeeming qualities. What happened in his past that caused him to be so ruthless? What horrors shaped him into doing what's wrong rather than what's right? Good. Now he's well rounded. I actually feel a twinge of sympathy for him. Hmmm. All looking good. Let's shake things up a bit. Let's kill the villian off. There's the crime for my book.

Villian was bad, but had a couple of redeeming qualities. So who wanted him dead, and why?

And that's going further into brainstorming secondary characters. Now once all my characters, complete with their issues, backstories, and GMC are complete, I try to draw lines of connection between them. Who is connected to whom by a secret--a past event--any kind of connection? I try to keep pushing and going until my "graph" looks like it's sitting on a spider's web because of all the lines of connection.

Brainstorming...it can take you places! Try it!

5 comments:

Dineen A. Miller said...

Would you slap me if I said it looks like spagetti? LOL!

Now you've inspired me to get moving with Staff Dominion. Of course, the way I get my story brainstormed (after picking our crit groups' heads) is to write the synopsis.

Are you gagging yet?

CHickey said...

How about just zoning off into inner space and letting the characters speak to you?

:-)Ronie said...

Characters background is where I start, too. Getting that depth, that history helps me know the characters enough to know how they will respond to any situation.

Great topic, girl!

Gina said...

Different stories come to me differently though I usually know their goals and conflicts. Then I start writing and sort of discover things as I go along.

When I get stuck that's when the heavy duty character sheets come out.

Right now I'm at that stuck place, so I guess it's time for some brainstorming!

Tina said...

Hey Robin, my sister and I have started doing some brainstorming out loud and I am finding it useful. I don't know if I could do that with just anybody though.

In the past, I have journaled in a nonsense file about a story. I guess that's kind of the same thing?

More recently, I scribble in small journals I carry in my purse or that are scattered all over the house!