• Novel Brainstorming

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 2 comments

    It may not be perfect, but it sure beats a blank page

    Hollywood makes starting a novel seem like a supernatural affair, parallel to a life-altering angel visitation or something. Some writers talk about brainstorming a novel like it’s an involuntary vision quest. For instance, J.K. Rowling claimed “I really don’t know where the idea came from. It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head.” Doesn’t that sound like every writer’s dream come true? You’re walking along, feeling listless about the writing life, and all of a sudden―bam! There’s your hero and your story.

    Regretfully, that hasn’t happened to me, and I have yet to meet a writer who has had that epiphany. Hoping that one day you’ll have a literary revelation is often self-sabotage. If you’re waiting to fall in love with an idea before you make a commitment to it, then you might lose out on turning that idea into a novel. Having unrealistic expectations for your writing rarely ever gets anything done, unless you’re a literary savant.

    What initially makes or breaks an idea is whether or not you’re interested in it. I like to equate brainstorming to dating. Just because it’s not love at first sight doesn’t mean you won’t someday fall in love à la Harry and Sally. The same goes for ideas―don’t let them go if they intrigue you. They may  seem more mediocre than genius, but writing is a craft, and one doesn’t immediately master a craft. So if you’re interested in fleshing out a character, go for it―you can only gain from the experience.

    Whatever you do, try not to succumb to the allure of a blank screen. Staring at a blank page, not a promising first draft, is like staring into an abyss. A first draft is, at the very least, something you can work with. Who knows what might evolve out of that first draft you rescued from the recycling bin? You could find yourself molding it into a beautifully-written, complex novel.



    In addition to writing for WriteByNight’s blog, Jenna Cooper writes for BE Mag and a blog called FemThreads.  Aside from writing, Jenna served as an AmeriCorps Member from 2008-2010 and will start her M.S. in Information Studies in Fall 2012.  She graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in English from the University of Texas.


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    Wesley Belk

    I’m becoming a fan of your blogs! Seems everyone I click on I gain something from it! Can I marry you? Just kidding! I’m married and have kids, but seriously I love your blogs!!


    Wow, thanks! I really appreciate that. I’ve worked hard on finding my blogging voice, so it means a lot to me!

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