In honour of this month being National Novel Writing Month, I wanted to take this month to write a series of posts on creative writing. I’ll touch on my own experience for examples because the most important part of creative writing is that it is a completely individual process for each writer.
(If you want to sign up to do NaNoWriMo too, it’s not too late! Their website is only a quick Google search away. If you do, send me a message through my Instagram or Facebook page and we can build a writing group.)
Creative writing is a style of writing that includes many different genres through prose, poetry, screenwriting, and playwriting. As I don’t have as much experience in the latter three, I’m going to focus on creative prose in this series.
Novels are the first to come to mind when I think of creative prose. They tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end set in a world that is outlined clearly by rules and expectations. The plots of these stories are epic and tend to span more than one novel, becoming a series.
Short stories are miniature versions of novels, in some ways. Their plots are short, often left incomplete so that the reader can come to their conclusions after reading it. There are fewer characters who have smaller and more personal conflicts, rather than the large casts and world-ending disasters in a novel.
And finally, a strange outlier that doesn’t fit in any category, the creative non-fiction piece. These are short stories that reflect the writer’s own life while being moulded by slight stretches of imagination to guide them in the direction of the message the writer wishes to convey. These seem to be more difficult to write, as the writer must find where to draw the line between their experiences and fiction to keep it from falling into the category of fiction.
Now that I’ve introduced the three main forms of creative prose writing, let’s move on to this week’s topic: Brainstorming. In my opinion, this word can be used to mean getting the inspiration for stories, characters, and other elements, or it can mean putting those elements together.
There are quite a few ways to go about doing brainstorming, and some of them won’t work for you. I tried quite a few different ways before I found ones that work for me. I’ll go through a few that work for me and maybe I’ll make another post about some popular ones after some more in-depth research. As always, use the tools at your disposal! Learning all about writing has become so much easier with the Internet. All the answers to your questions are out there, waiting for you to find them.
The method I use most for inspiration to begin brainstorming is a bit odd, but every creative writing teacher will recommend it. I always have a pen and notebook with me, waiting for inspiration. So many people and conversations can lead to funny little ideas popping into your head. If you get into the habit of writing them down, sometimes they will lead to building characters and scenes. This is how I came up with the idea for my first novel (still not finished). I had a group of friends in second and third grades from whom I built characters, and they helped me to come up with a little plot.
Writing prompts are an interesting way of finding a story. Millions of them can be found on the Internet, on different apps, in writing textbooks, and in the questions that you have about the world. Try setting yourself a timer and just start writing with whatever pops into your head when you read the prompt.
One of my professors introduced me to a brainstorming method using index cards (sometimes called recipe cards). You write each scene on a card and mention which characters you need in the scene and whether the outcome of the scene is going to be positive or negative for the characters. You can add any other info that you can fit, too. Using this method, you can rearrange scenes physically as you go to see what the best order is going to be and what the best introductions for your characters are going to be. I’ve used this method for a couple of writing projects, but I’ve found that it works better for smaller projects for me. I end up focusing too far ahead and not actually getting any writing done.
Finally, let’s talk about the non-brainstorm method. This month, I’m writing a novel for NaNoWriMo and I honestly haven’t done a lot for it. I have two main characters, a general premise, and a couple of settings. Other than that, I’m flying by the seat of my pants. It’s new to me, and honestly crazy, but it seems to be working much better than other methods have. I’m starting to think my over-planning brain doesn’t have a place in my writing.
There are endless methods for inspiration gathering and brainstorming and I encourage everyone to find what works for them. I’m sure that other bloggers have written about their own methods and it would be a good idea to go around and try a few from different lists to find your own.
Thank you for spending this short time with me. I plan on writing more about creative writing, and those posts will more than likely be longer and include more elements of writing, writing prompts, and other helpful hints. Happy writing!
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