You may remember, from years ago, your English teachers teaching you how to brainstorm before writing a story or even a research paper. They had helpful little diagrams where you could write in your main idea and supporting details or you could just go all willy nilly and free form, jotting ideas on the paper. Have you ever tried it since leaving a school setting?
Brainstorming is something both plotters and pantsers can take advantage of. The ideas come and, in my opinion, it’s rare that you’ll know the whole outcome of the story before you sit down to write it. Brainstorming can help the plotter figure out the direction they want their novel to take. For the pantser, it can be good to go in with ideas you may want to hit, but I also think it’s a good way to move forward on a story if you’re stuck. Stop down and take a few minutes to jot down ideas about your plot line or your characters or the relationships they have. It could spark a new idea or direction for you to take.
Just be sure to remember that just because an idea comes out during brainstorming, that doesn’t mean you have to use it. Think of them as suggestions from your subconscious.
Do you brainstorm before or during your writing? Have you found it helps your process?
If you’re not into free form, here are some brainstorming diagrams that could help you: