The first step in writing any creative piece is generating an interesting and unique concept which can later be expanded into a fully developed plot. While on some (extremely rare) occasions these concepts seem to magically manifest from nowhere, it is important for writers to have a more reliable means of brainstorming than staring at a blank page or word document and waiting for inspiration to strike. Below I’ve listed some common methods of brainstorming:
Simply write whatever comes to mind for about ten or fifteen minutes and see what grabs your attention. Are there any thoughts or ideas in your writing that you want to continue exploring?
Note: You may be struggling to come up with material even for a free write. In this case, I recommend utilizing one-word prompts. These can be easily found online, or you can make your own by picking up a nearby book, magazine, etc. and selecting a random word from that.
Keep a notebook handy as you go about your day and record events and interactions that stand out to you. Make observations about the world around you (your environment and the people in it). Additionally, journal as you read. Write down quotes that catch your attention, whether it be for their beautiful language or inspiring ideas. Look back over your journal frequently and see if there is anything that can be developed into a story idea.
- Draw from real life
Sometimes turning to interesting people in your life or fictionalizing alternate scenarios of some of your own decisions could lead to a great idea. If you find that the reason you are struggling to come up with ideas is because you are distracted by something going on in your life that is consuming your thoughts, perhaps it is time to write about that. If not, the best approach may be to confront that issue prior to attempting to write.
- Start with a character
There is no hard and fast rule that your story idea needs to begin with a plot. If you’re struggling to come up with a concept for your story, try sketching out your protagonist and maybe one or two secondary characters. Think of their personality traits, their values and objectives, and their relationships to one another. What kinds of situations might these characters end up in? Could any of those situations lead to a larger story?
You’re likely to generate multiple ideas at once while brainstorming. After narrowing your focus to one concept, be sure to write down your other ideas for later use. At this point in the process, you should have one general idea that you can begin to flesh out and develop into a story.
For other ideas, check out this helpful link: https://www.writewhale.com/brainstorm-a-novel/