So You Want to Write a Novel- Part 1: Getting Ideas- Brainstorm

Brainstorm- So You Want to Write a Novel- Getting Ideas

Since January, I’ve ran the Port City Writers Group at the Oswego Public Library here in Oswego, NY. We have quite an active little group with members ranging from newbies to published authors. A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from the newer writers is that they want to write a novel, but are lost as to where to start. So that’s where this series comes in— each day during this next week I will be posting sections of my lesson “So You Want to Write a Novel (or Short Story)”. I figured that it would not only help them, who can have the information to look back on, but also might help some of you as well (especially if you are in the same boat as they are)… so let’s get down to it!!!

So You Want to Write a Novel (or Short Story)?


You need an idea.

Yes this is the biggest, most necessary thing that writers need when crafting a story.

And that might sound silly, but think about it— is your idea big and robust enough to sustain a short story? A novel? If not, you might have to develop it a bit.

Time to brainstorm!

But what do you do with your ideas? How do you organize them?

  • It’s a good idea to make a document on your computer (in a word processor) or on Google Docs where you can list your ideas.
  • Or if you prefer, carry a notebook around with you all the time so that if you have an idea, you can jot it down.
  • Notes and voice recording applications on your phone work too in a pinch.

I have a notebook in my purse that I carry around with me everywhere and also a Google Doc that is constantly being added to.

But I don’t have an idea? What do I do???

Try one of these!

  • Free writing
  •  Brainstorm by observing your surroundings (people watch, listen in on some conversations that are on the loud side, see how people react to others and different situations)
  • Writing prompts

Your idea can be anything having to do with your story.

A character, a situation, setting, plot point, conflict, subject– anything. Once you have your basic idea, try to develop upon it– is it an idea for a character? What does he or she look like? More importantly, what are their traits? How would you describe them?

Are you taking an already existing idea (like a myth or fairy tale) and adding your own spin onto it?

Some of the coolest, most original stories I’ve read are retellings of a popular fairy tale. Take a look at the Lunar Chronicles series, for example. Marissa Meyer has taken Cinderella, Little Red, and Rapunzel to the next level by changing the setting and the societies these girls live in. What you’re left with is a fascinating story that kind of follows the fairy tale story line, but also takes it in a new direction.

Now that you’re brainstorming ideas, jot some down somewhere. Keep looking for more ideas and write those down too!

Look at all of the stories you can write!

brilliant_david_tennant You’re brilliant (the Doctor thinks so too)! Try to develop those ideas a bit.

Let’s chat! Where do you get your ideas? How do you organize your ideas?

See you tomorrow with discussions about audience, genre, and whether to pants or plan your novel.

8 thoughts on “So You Want to Write a Novel- Part 1: Getting Ideas- Brainstorm

  1. alexinbookland says:

    Great post!
    I have two books and an excel sheet just full of either a paragraph of description of a location of character, or a story idea which will be no more than 2 lines, or even something like ‘dinosaurs + samurai???’, and that’s where my idea pool begins ^_^

  2. Megan Sutherland says:

    Well thought out post! Excited to see more of these lessons.

    I don’t get book ideas, I have a feeling I want to portray usually, and I let it play out on paper as I write a story. The ideas come as I write, but I initially don’t have a clue to what I’m going to write about. I do pick up tidbits of the world around me and jot them on a notebook or cell phone. Phrases, names, descriptions etc.

    • Amanda Marie says:

      Thanks Megan! It really helped my writers group, so I thought it would be interesting to see what all of you thought as well.

      The feeling/emotion aspect of it is interesting. You do a great job with that too, especially with what I have read of your novel.

      Thanks for your feedback and for stopping by to read my blog.

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