I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brainstorming Tips

Whether you write short stories or the next great epic novel, certain brainstorming activities can spur creativity.  The next time you need some new ideas, try these tips.

1.     Quantity matters. Gather lots of ideas, more than you’ll use; keep an open mind to all ideas; press on to get as many as possible; this will stretch your mind and take you to places you might not go otherwise
2.     No judging during brainstorming. There are no bad ideas here, no wrong ones.
3.     Write everything down. This validates the idea and keeps you from forgetting it. After all you may use it later.
4. Build on other ideas and tweak the ones you have.
5. Use randomness. When brainstorming, try landing your finger on a random page in the dictionary or encyclopedia. This may take you in a direction you never considered before.
6. Brainstorm with a friend. The old Biblical advice of “two are better than one” applies here!
7. Swap ideas. Sometimes the first ideas are clich√©. Swapping ages or traits may take you in a unique direction.

Let me show you how that last one can generate ideas.

Protagonist:               Female 40                  Nurse
Antagonist:                Male 20                     Professional singer              

Now let’s see what we come up with when we swap some of these:

Protagonist                Male 40                      Nurse
Antagonist                 Female 20                  Professional singer

Swapping a few of the traits came make a huge difference.

Here are some other traits to include in the characterization, but don’t forget to swap some!

Physical Impairments or Enhancements
Religious Beliefs
Accent, Speed of Speech
Personality Traits

What other ideas do you use for brainstorming? Please share with us!


  1. This is a good exercise, and I love your graphic. Thanks!

    1. Swapping ideas is fun, too. It helps to send you in directions you never considered!

  2. These are some great ideas! The swapping ideas one is not one I've tried yet. :) I sometimes steal a Michelle Lim idea and brainstorm on paper (actually my computer because I type faster than I write) and write down as many ideas related to a given topic as I can in three minutes. This has produced some good ideas for me. :)

    1. That's the idea behind number one!

  3. Love No. 2 -- mostly because it's the hardest for me. Another thing I've found that helps when I brainstorm is to write it out in long hand, or even better, to draw my ideas out with colorful markers like a mind map.

    1. I agree, that it's really hard not to judge ideas, but when we accept all ideas it sometimes leads us in an unexpected direction!

  4. Teri, I love the idea swapping! That helps to not have a cliched plot or characters!! Great post. I'm going to print this out.

  5. I generally make a list of several items, actually anything that can happen and choose the most unlikely to occur. Thanks for more ideas!

  6. I love these ideas! I shared some with my 15 year old niece who wants to be a writer. She was happy to get her brain jump-started again. Thanks Teri. You're so clever ;)