Even the most experienced author can run into roadblocks when generating new ideas for their next novel. Despite plenty of inspiration available to everyone, and a never-ending influx of content to engage with, writers can often feel stuck when it comes to finding new ideas, tropes, plot lines, and more. We at KWL can offer some advice for getting your ideas flowing and exercising the creative side of your brain. Read on to get a few ideas on how to come up with great ideas.

Tips on Generating More Novel Ideas

Try free-writing – free-writing is an exercise that we highly recommend! Free-writing is an exercise wherein you set a timer, grab a piece of paper or open a new document, and set a timer. Write for that amount of time – and only that amount of time. Stop even if you are mid-thought. Then, do it again!

You can start with a phrase, concept, or word you want to associate with your writing, but the best way to free write is to simply start and see where it takes you. You might be surprised by what you produce! More likely than not, you will come up with a great idea that you can take with you into your next novel-writing project.

Brainstorm without a goal – don’t aim to have a great idea by the end of a brainstorming session; just aim to have fun with it. There are many ways to brainstorm, but one of my favourites is word association. Write down one word and then any other words that you associate with it during a timed period and see what you come up with!

Brainstorming is best with paper and pens, or even markers and coloured pencils – get visual with it! Doodle, sketch, colour code, what have you! Brainstorming is a great way to shake up your thought process and get away from the computer screen for a time.

Think like a video game developer – meaning, anything goes! When coming up with new ideas, some video game studios ask their artists and writers to come up with the most far-flung, difficult-to-grasp or complicated ideas they can manage. After that, it’s time to work backwards until they find a strong, sustainable idea for a game. After all, if they’re not an AAA studio, chances are the developers just don’t have the resources available to great a sprawling video game series with the best graphics available. Rather, they must take their amazing ideas and work with the tools they have – meaning simplification!

Like books, video games often have one distinct through-line, a story that is easy to describe. Start with a complicated idea, maybe one that’s paragraphs long, and then narrow it down to one sentence. This is a great way to understand and play around with your own limitations and learn how to work within them.

Think like an artist – part of being a visual artist is drafting before drawing; storyboarding, sketching, what have you, it’s all about getting an idea down and then trying again and again until it looks write.

Write down your concepts and then toss them, crossing out ideas or recycling whole notebook pages until you’ve got it down. There’s no sense in keeping all that mental baggage – let go of the rough drafts! This can help you clear your head, since you are actively getting rid of what doesn’t work for you in real time.

Think like a detective – after a few brainstorming sessions, grab your documents, notes, and doodles, and look for connections between your ideas. See what themes, characters, or images you see popping up again and again. If there are some connections, there’s a strong idea there, developing as you have continued to brainstorm over and over again. Connect the dots and see what ideas from develop from those connections.

Collaborate with others – do any and all of the above with others! Especially if you are all writers, or in creative fields. Bouncing ideas off of each other is a great way to help them develop, and to let others percolate. Grab some coffee, tea, wine, whatever, get on a call or gather round a table, and go for it!

As always, here are some resources for your to access – idea generation, writing guides and advice galore are available to you in these eBooks and audiobooks:

As always, happy writing!

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