Yesterday I had fun brainstorming with my friend Liz for a new idea. No I am not ditching my current WIP, the word count is rising accordingly. I just wanted to take some time to write out the thoughts on a shiny new idea so I wouldn't forget.
Also, I've noticed that my ideas ferment better if I can develop them a little bit, and then let them go. You can't make wine if the grapes aren't smashed and bottled, you know?
So I smashed some grapes yesterday. Liz had a brilliant new game that I thought I would share.
Usually when brainstorming I play "What if?" as in "What if the main character was actually an alien?"
But Liz suggested I do "What doesn't happen?" You list all of the things the plot event/character/idea is not. For example we were working on the job of the main character. She worked at an agency as a translator, but I didn't know what the agency did. It was easy to say what I didn't want it to be, because I'd thought about it:
*It was not the sort of agency that took on major crimes. I didn't want to write a paranormal police procedural, and if you have your characters solving murders, then that's what the book is about. You kill someone, the reader expects there to be justice and suspects.
*It was the sort of agency that expected a small amount of trouble, but not so much that it happened every day. So, working at a museum you don't expect to get into trouble. Working in a police station, it's a part of daily life. I need somewhere in between.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Next time you're stumped, go ahead and list all the things the plot element is not. It's a great way to narrow down your focus and hopefully, find out what the element is.
By the way, I still don't have my answer, but that's okay. It's still a fledgling idea, and needs time to fester--I mean grow.
What about you? What do you do to nurture new ideas?