Brainstorming Techniques

To write a story, you need story ideas. But, don’t worry! Story ideas can pretty much come from just about ANYWHERE. And this is where brainstorming comes into play. Brainstorming is an exercise that helps you take your jumbled thoughts out of your mind and put them on paper (or your device) to piece together an idea that can be expanded and transformed into a cohesive story. 
 

There are many ways of achieving this task, and four of those ways are listed below:
 

Writing Prompts | Jot Session | Theme Selection | Journaling

Writing Prompts
A writing prompt is a writing exercise that allows writers to write down ideas based on a specific topic, which may include a specific word, phrase, sentence, or image. 

Try writing a passage of text using any of the words, phrases, and incomplete sentences below. For 30 minutes without stopping, write whatever comes to mind about the text you choose. After the 30 minutes is up, read over what you’ve written and find areas of your text that can be used as a basis for a story. 

WORDS

power
joy
anger
baby
love
intimacy
faith
sleep
waves
cheat
work
blessings
favor
becoming
black

 

PHRASES

 

jump the broom

on the bandwagon

sleepless nights

time is running out

joy will come in the morning

pleasant dreams

 

the bare minimum
 

clogged pipes

glass half full

the spider’s web

COMPLETE THE SENTENCE

 

On my wedding day. . .

She turned around and said. . .


“No!” Todd said. “I don’t want to. . .”

Tanya jumped out of the car and. . .

The cat purred as he sniffed the bloody knife that laid next to. . . 

 

Jay looked at the window and saw. . .

My first day of school is. . . 

 

Don’t do it. . .

 

My hands began to shake as I opened the letter, which said. . .

Jot Session
“What the heck is this?” you may asked. Unlike writing prompts where you’re given a topic to write about, a Jot Session (what I like to call it) is a type of brainstorming technique where the writer jots down anything and everything that comes to mind within a specific time frame and as quickly as possible. 

 

Grab a pen and paper (or get on your computer), set a timer for five minutes (or feel free to change the time limit to whatever time you feel comfortable with). When the timer starts, so do you! Keep writing until the timer shuts off, and read what you’ve written. You’ll see that it probably won’t make any sense --- at first. But once you fully examine the text, you should be able to take whatever words you’ve written and find a solid story idea. 
 

 

Theme Selection
Another way to develop story ideas is to choose a theme for your story and build your story around that particular theme. Here are some common themes for children’s picture books:

bravery/courage
friendship
belonging/identity
acceptance
divorce
family
loss/grief/death
fear
confidence
careers
kindness
love
giving
helping


 

Journaling
Journaling is most associated with self-reflection, as it provides a perfect space to express your thoughts, ideas, and experiences on paper (or your device). It’s also beneficial in children’s picture book writing! Instead of (or in addition to) journaling about your everyday experiences, focus on anything related to writing and write about it. For example, let’s say you’ve attended a writing workshop. Take all the information you’ve learned and write it in your journal. Or, if you’re in the shower, driving to work, or watching TV and something pops in your head about a potential story idea, write it in your journal when you have the chance. Maybe you’re potty training your son and daughter. Write down your experience and theirs. (Tip: Potty training is actually a popular theme for picture books, as all children experience this at some point.) The main idea is to write down your thoughts and encounters regarding writing (or experiences that may lead to an idea) and determine how your notes can be turned into engaging stories.