Preptober 2021: Brainstorming

Happy Preptober!

I know, it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, and I STILL haven’t posted my big Milwordy wrap-up. I admit that I needed a break from the whole Milwordy thing and so I’ve been procrastinating on that particular post. But maybe it’s better to get a little space from it before giving my final thoughts anyway.

Speaking of taking a break and how I’m not really doing that anymore…

You guys…it’s Preptober!

Yep, NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and it’s time to get ready for it. I didn’t exactly win any of the three NaNos that happened during Milwordy because I set myself extra challenges that made it harder. Not this November. This November I’m doing the standard 50k in a month. And I intend to win.

So, this Preptober, I’ve decided to take you through some of my planning as I get ready to write the big 5-0. And since today is the first day of Preptober, I’m starting with one of the most fun parts of the whole process: Brainstorming.

Really, the whole month of October is one big brainstorm session, but this beginning part is the most open and free because…well, I don’t have my idea yet. It could be literally anything. And I can focus on any part of the story that I want—character, plot, setting—there are no rules! Yet.

So, if you’re new to the whole novel-writing game and you don’t have an idea for your story yet, let me offer you one of my methods for finding ideas when inspiration just isn’t coming. I had to find a lot of ideas over the course of writing one million words in a year, so I’ve figured out what works for me. One of the first things I like to do is ask:

What do I like to see in stories?

One of the biggest reasons that I want to write is because I LOVE fiction. Books, tv, movies—all of it. I love it! And the easiest way to figure out what I want to write is to figure out what I want to read.

Think about what kind of stories interest you the most. Do you love romance? Thrillers? High-fantasy? Chances are this is going to tell you which genre to write in, but don’t stop there! What elements of these stories do you love best? Think about what elements can be included in a synopsis that will make you immediately pick up a book and start reading? What types of endings leave you satisfied? What characters connect to you, almost like they’re real people?

As an example, when I see a book about time travel, I am immediately drawn in. I don’t know what it is about time travel specifically, but I am fascinated by it. So, when I’m thinking about what kind of book I want to write, time travel goes on my list. I may not ultimately decide to run with it, but right now I’m just coming up with a list so I can pick and choose which elements feel the most interesting to me in this moment.

So, here’s my list of story elements that I love. Like I said, I probably won’t use all of these, but having them all written down in front of me helps me figure out what kind of story I’m excited to tell in this moment.

  • Time travel
  • Regency romance
  • Redemption arcs
  • Bad boy with a heart of gold
  • Chosen one
  • Fairytale retellings
  • Paranormal romance
  • Road trips
  • Parallel worlds
  • Superheroes
  • Stories told from villain’s perspective
  • Good guy seems bad and bad guy seems good
  • Magic
  • Urban fantasy
  • Found family
  • Unlikely friendships
  • Unlikely romances
  • Secret identities
  • Setting by the water
  • Ambitious characters
  • Protective family
  • Humor
  • Characters that make each other better
  • Pretend romances
  • Pirates/on a ship in general
  • Overthrowing the system
  • Characters who know they’re going to lose but keep fighting anyway (and then win)
  • Pining characters
  • Slow burns

I could go on like this for a while, but I think you get the picture. I’m certainly not going to use ALL of these elements in one story, but I will look at this list and see what speaks to me the most. Maybe it will be and ambitious pirate who forms unlikely friendships and forms a found family. Or maybe I’ll have my main character meet the same person from two parallel worlds, one seeming like the good one but is actually bad and vice versa. Or maybe I’ll write a funny story about superheroes. Maybe something else entirely. I don’t know yet. I’m going to give these ideas a few days to cook and see what grabs me.

What are the story elements that draw you in every time? I would love it if you would comment down below and tell me what’s on your list! Maybe you’ll even inspire me to add a few more things to mine!

Thanks for reading!

Published by Robin J

I’m an aspiring novelist who hasn’t quite figured out this whole writing thing. I’ve been scribbling down stories since I was a little kid, but only dared to dream that I could write something worth reading as I became an adult. At 33, I still feel like I have a lot of progress to make before I’m ready to try publishing, but I’m getting better every day. Typically I write Fantasy (of both the Adult and YA varieties), but I have dipped my toe in Romance and Sci-Fi. When coming up with a story to write, all I care about is that the plot grabs my attention and the characters tug at my heartstrings. The genre is an afterthought. I tend to set myself lofty goals. Mostly I fail, but occasionally I surprise myself and succeed. Either way, I enjoy being pushed beyond the limits of what I thought I could do. That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with the Milwordy challenge. I may or may not reach the full million words, but I know I’m going to learn a lot along the way. I hope you will, too!

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