Brainstorming, Pt 2.

Jumping back in where we left off in Brainstorming, Pt 1, we’re in the middle of brainstorming a premise for our hypothetical fantasy novel.

Spaghetti strand #3 is a good one, but just for fun we’re going to go back and check out the others.

WOMEN IN POWER – Why would a feudal society be controlled by women?
1. Women are physically dominant instead of men.
2. Religion or tradition dictates a matriarchal society.
3. Women are superior in magic, giving them an edge.
4. Men really screw up the world, so some supernatural force curses the male royal line.

#4 is interesting to me because it also seems to have a lot of conflict built right in. Remember, conflict = gold. You, the writer, love conflict. Conflict makes ideas into stories. The first question that I come up with while looking at #4 is ‘what kind of curse keeps men from taking power in our little fantasy world?’ Hmmm. Time for another list. Read more

Brainstorming

ATHENA Statue
Some people just don’t know how to brainstorm.

Jeff is one of those people–brilliant in many other ways, but with no natural gift for brainstorming. Recently, I spoke with another writerly friend who struggles the same way.

At first, I was rather shocked. What do you do when you can’t brainstorm? Do you just wait for a brilliant idea to spring fully-formed into your mind like Athena from the forehead of Zeus?

Well, yes, apparently.

Just like being hit by lighting, this DOES happen occasionally. There are plenty of anecdotes running through the writing community about someone eating three day old pizza, having a trippy dream, then writing it all down and voila–instant bestseller!

Unfortunately, this is sort of like winning the lottery. Yes, it could happen, but it wouldn’t be smart to bet your livelihood on it. If you ever want to be not just a writer but an author–you know, someone with text in print, preferably PAID for said text–you have to figure out a better way. That better way is brainstorming. And, luckily for my better half, it’s a learnable skill. Read more

Info Dumps

infodumpThe release of background information is one of the biggest things a writer (of any genre) has to struggle with. Too much, too soon, can create what is called an “info dump”. You’ve all seen them: a big, giant paragraph (or more!) of information that is probably important, but it’s boring.As a reader, too often I find myself skimming over these hefty passages in search of some actual story going on.

Info dumps are an especially big problem for writers of speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, etc) because more often than not we’re introducing entirely new worlds, cultures, systems of magic and alternate natural laws. This requires us to communicate a very large amount of information–whereas writers of other genres can usually depend on their readers to already know many of the “rules” governing the setting. Read more