Monday, August 2, 2010

Brainstorming vs Outlining

We're back to me again! Great group, right? I'm excited to see what the others have to post about this week! Since this is something I'm doing at the moment, I'm going to be talking about brainstorming today. Specially, brainstorming instead of outlining.

I hate outlining. I can't do it. When I first start writing something, I usually only know the beginning of the story. Sometimes I know the ending or, at least, the general idea of the ending. I never, ever know how the characters are getting from point A to point B.

Some writers won't start writing until they have everything figured out. Me? I can't do that. When the voice or idea or beginning sentence creeps into my head I HAVE to write it. If I wait, chances are I'll never get back to it. So I start writing and, usually, the words start flying. Then I hit chapter two or three. The part where the scene or sentence has already been written and I sit there going "Well, uh, what now?" At this point, I usually know how the story is going to end or, if I don't know the ending, I know the major conflict in the middle and just not how it's going to be resolved. I just have to figure out all the things that happen in between.

This is when I start my brainstorming. It's basically a two-step, multi-day process. First, I turn my iPod on shuffle. I have a LOT of music and a lot of the music on my iPod is stuff I don't listen to any more, so this really helps, because I'm not expecting a lot of the lyrics. I listen to the lyrics, usually while surfing the web or something, and if something catches my eye (ear), I write it down. If a song matches the mood I think the book will be, I add the song to my playlist.

Once this is done, or I at least have a good start, I have a bunch of ideas about what may happen in the story. Then, I sit down with the music on, a pen, and a pad of sticky notes. This is my second favorite part (I love the music part) and I go crazy. I take notes on anything I can think of and brainstorm about anything that can happen in the story. Some of the notes that I kept include:

-a list of the characters
-Plotlines (major)
-Plotlines (Minor)
-a short (mini) summary of the beginning, middle, and end.
-a list of Things to Remember (including things like keep the boy realistic, etc)
-the boy/girl relationship and things I need to remember about it as I develop it.
-5 or so sticky notes with scenes that happen in the first half of the book, so I have a place to reference when I get stuck.

I'll do this every so often whenever I get stuck, when I pass the point I brainstormed for, or if the story takes a completely different turn.

What about you? Do you just start writing or do you outline first? Do you brainstorm? What's your process like?