Brainstorming Themes, Plot and Topics


 Once you’ve found your book’s premise, now it’s time to brainstorm themes or sub-topics that could contribute to the premise and help you make your point. If you’re writing fiction, this may be a good place to begin brainstorming characters and plot. If you are writing non-fiction, this is the place for you to begin thinking chapters, themes and topics that help you “prove” your premise.

This is a time to begin gathering or collecting ideas. In a future post I’ll give you my solution for keeping track and adding to these ideas, so for now let’s just focus on gathering.

This is also not the time to wear your editor cap. At this stage there are no bad ideas, false trails, unlikely characters or bad plot lines.  Try to refrain from correcting your ideas at his point of the writing process.

This is the time to create. It’s a time to put everything down and brainstorm your project.

Where do you put your ideas? Some people like to storyboard by using physical index cards or several apps that allow for this kind of creativity. Others use Excel or Numbers to capture their thoughts. The important thing is to put all of your ideas down so you can review them, over time.

Where can you begin?

Ask yourself a few questions. Use Why, What, Where, When and Who questions to get your started.  

What are some logical steps to help you prove your premise? What are questions readers will ask? Who are my main characters? Who are people whom I can quote or reference? Why are they part of the book? Where is my book set (fiction)? Where do I need to make major thematic points (non-fiction)? The list is endless once you get started asking.

Once the juices flow, you can continue to add to your list.

Remember, this is not necessarily a one-time activity. It can be ongoing. If you’re like me, sometimes I get the best ideas in the middle of the night. I try to write them down and add them to my brainstorming list the following day.

Your brainstorming list will grow and at some point, you’ll need to begin editing it. That’s our next step and next post.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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