Saturday, February 11, 2006

FD30 Day 0 - Brainstorming

Chapter One of First Draft in 30 Days addresses the brainstorming process, which author Karen Wiesner claims should be an all-day affair.

No, that doesn't mean standing for hours at a white board shouting out non sequiturs like those corporate brainstorming sessions we've all suffered through at one point (or several hundred points).

It means the book is always on your mind, percolating in the foreground or background, no matter what you're doing. It means missing exits on turnpikes or burning pots of rice because your mind wandered into your fictional world. It means reading a newspaper article and running for the scissors (not with scissors of course--we novelists not named Hemingway are a tame, risk-averse sort) to clip it out and add it to your story folder for that work.

Using her suggestions, I made a list of brainstorming techniques I'd like to use for Voice of Crow:

  • Make a soundtrack: I've done this for every novel I've ever written except Eyes of Crow.* Even then, I had a RealPlayer Playlist consisting of appropriate movie scores, world music, etc. (I listened to the three Lord of the Rings soundtracks every day for the last few weeks of writing the first draft.)

    However, for Voice of Crow (and maybe Eyes, retroactively), I'd like to go back to my tradition of making a real soundtrack, using modern music to express the characters' situations and emotions. Though it's set in a fantasy world without electric guitars and synthesizers, certain human conditions are universal: falling in love, losing a parent, getting dumped, having one's village burned to the ground, etc.

  • Take archery lessons: Two of the point-of-view characters in Voice of Crow are hunters, preternaturally skilled with a bow. Might be nice if I picked one up for the first time since I was 13, the better to get inside their heads.

  • Do a collage: 1) Get a big piece of cardstock, any color. 2) Gather photos from magazines, websites, etc., that remind you of your setting, characters, or other elements of your work. 3) Go nuts with a glue stick.

  • Write letters to each of my main characters, some from me, some from each other, ignoring for the moment that all but one of them are "pre-literate." I think this is especially important for non-point-of-view characters, to be able to hear their voices more clearly.
I'm excited to try these suggestions, because brainstorming the Aspect of Crow series doesn't come naturally to me. It takes place in a world unlike our own, so my brain usually considers it "over there." I think about it when I sit down to write, but it doesn't infect my mind 24/7 the way my contemporary novels do.

Stay tuned for Day 1. This train is leaving the station!

*Heck, I've made soundtracks for parts of my life (Junior year of high school, the six months I was in England, and the first six months of 1992).



Slightly off-subject, but my D&D character is an excellent archer, and I've been interested in picking up a bow again too for that simple reason. D&D is its own fantasy world and the immersion in it is part of the draw. Enjoying the snap of the bowstring and the flight of the arrow is one thing my character gets to do on a regular basis, and I only get to do when I'm being her.

I used to be passable at it in high school, too. I also used to have better vision than I do now...

Posted by: Blogger Sharon GR at 2/11/2006 11:39 AM

Cool, Sharon. I think that's part of the draw (no pun intended) of D&D--it can be such a creative outlet and expression of one's own personality. You can explore all different facets of yourself, or make up something completely foreign, just to see what it feels like. It has a lot in common with writing fiction, and there's a huge crossover among players and writers.

Not that I'd know. I've only played it once, and playing D&D once is like visiting Paris for an hour. You only get a brief, shallow glimpse of a fascinating world where people are speaking another language with way more passion than you can comprehend. And chocolate is usually involved in either experience.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 2/11/2006 12:12 PM

I can't say I ever played Dungeons & Dragons. I love roleplaying games however. The only drawback to me though is the fighting usually starts before you've had a chance to really build up your characters skills and you quite often get killed. All I can say about computer roleplaying games is thank heavens for cheat codes which help out a lot.:-)

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 2/12/2006 4:22 AM

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