Every novelist reaches a plateau where the perfect story idea isn’t coming together. The plot germ is there, but the theme, setting, characters, and storyline seem to spin out of control.
By using the acronym BRAINSTORM, you can bring the whirling to a halt and anchor your writing.
Believe in yourself. You’ve been given the gift of writing. You understand the craft and you’re constantly educating yourself to add more tools and techniques.
Realistic writing is what sells. No matter the genre, your storyline must be credible with identifiable characters who react and respond according to the traits you’ve given them.
New Year Promotion
Enroll in one of the Guild’s writing courses by January 31 and receive February’s webinars, with Bill Myers and DiAnn Mills, free.
Analyze your basic idea. How can you grow your characters by making their goals difficult—perhaps impossible—to reach?
Gain Inspiration by the stories of Jesus. Jesus spoke in parables and through His stories, people gleaned meaning and purpose for their lives. Find ways to show who your characters are by the way they tackle life’s challenges.
Name your book and your characters. Why? Because the title of a book gives the writer passion for the project. Who wants to wake up each morning to the thrill of working on novel X? In the same way, your characters deserve names that mean something.
Show, don’t tell. Propel your story into action by incorporating body language, intense emotion, purposeful dialogue, and unique settings.
Technique is essential. To make sure your plotting is tight, ask the following before writing each scene.
1. What is the point of view character’s problem or goal?
2. What does the point of view character learn that he/she didn’t know before?
3. What backstory is revealed (but not in the first 50 pages)?
4. How are the stakes raised for the point of view character?
Organize your thoughts into a file that contains all of your notes on plotting, research, characterization, and where you obtained the information. Go a step further and write a lengthy synopsis. I recommend plotting every scene. This doesn’t stifle your creativity! You are the writer. You can add, delete, and change whatever is necessary.
Research is vital to every successful novel. If your novel takes place in your backyard, then research the weeds there. Do your best to visit the setting. Interview those who have the same careers or experiences as your characters. Use the services of a library, chamber of commerce, the internet—whatever will help you root your reader in the story. Most of the time research will also spark new ideas to pursue.
Motivation is the key to every successful novel. You were motivated to begin a career as a writer. Your characters are motivated by their wants and needs, just as you are. Discover your character’s drive to see what he/she will do to achieve those wants and needs.
Once you’ve BRAINSTORMed, the desire to write will soon take over. You’ll be ready to speed off on another writing adventure!
Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, currently has fifty books in print and has sold over 1.5 million copies. DiAnn is also the Craftsman Mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.