In response to yesterday’s post on brainstorming/plotting, DLE said: "Every day, I get about a dozen book ideas. No kidding! The problem comes in writing them and building into each a truly redemptive storyline that honors the Lord."
I absolutely agree. Ideas are a dime a dozen for most writers. But for me there is a big difference between that first flash of an idea for a novel and all the small things and individual scenes and character development and hard work that make a story come together cohesively. That’s what I love about brainstorming. It helps me get past the premise and into motivation and characters and a logical storyline.
For The Victory Club, I began with this: "A novel about four women friends during WWII who each have a loved one serving in the war."
Not a whole lot to go on there, but it was a start. The ideas started getting tossed around. Two of the women are a mother and her daughter. Hmm. Yes. They both had unplanned pregnancies in common, twenty-some years apart. The mother is trapped in legalism and performing for God. The daughter has been captured by God’s grace. Oh, I know. I could…
And on it goes.
About Inspiration 8, Karen said: "Please say more. How does this work? Is it easy to catch on to the program? What will it do for you?"
Well, I encourage you to download the free 30 day trial. It isn’t a full version, but close enough to get the feel for it. This software is used in schools by children. Now that may mean that it is harder for adults to catch on <g> but I believe it is actually easy for all ages. It is also reasonably priced at $69.00.
As I mentioned yesterday, I got sort of hung-up in the templates. Inspiration 8 has templates for just about anything you might want to brainstorm — business plans, fiction, characters, speeches, and dozens more. But my problem with the templates was that I used them wrong. (My fault, not the program’s.) I made them a sort of "fill in the blanks" form. You know, like the lists writers sometimes get at conferences or out of books, the ones we’re supposed to complete for each character: Character’s height, weight, age, hair color, education, parents, siblings, etc. Those lists never worked for me. They are just vital statistics and don’t cause me to want to "know" them.
It was understanding the "Rapid Fire" option that made me get excited about Inspiration 8. Say you begin with the name Billy Bob. With brainstorming, you just want to start tossing out ideas, responses to who Billy Bob might be, a kind of word association. Your first responses will likely be cliche, i.e. hillbilly. But you keep going, and before you know it you’ve got that he is a cop who takes ballet lessons. Hmm.
It’s difficult to describe in a blog how this is working. Using the diagram mode, you’ve got a bunch of little bubbles fanning out from the center bubble containing the name Billy Bob. When one of the ideas "pop," you move into that bubble and begin using rapid fire with it, expanding with more ideas. You can fill your diagrams with photos, assign colors, change it into an outline mode, move things around, include notes to yourself.
I believe I’ll be able to use this software for "big picture" brainstorming and also for smaller "scenes" brainstorming. You know. When I hit a brick wall about page 200 and wonder what the heck is going to happen next now that I have my protagonist in such a predicament.
I am a novice with Inspiration 8. But I do believe it is going to be a great tool for me. I know a lot of other writers at the workshop (all multi-published novelists) responded to it in the same way I did. It isn’t going to write a novel for me, but it is a great way to get my ideas down and organize them. Sometimes using pen and paper helps me switch gears, but it can be hard to make all the scribbles make sense later. Not so with the software.
Later this week, I’m going to be brainstorming books with some writer friends. Several of us have the Inspiration 8 software on our laptops and plan to use it as we work. I’ll let you know how it goes in that setting.