Using your brain – Brainstorming

by juliusmsanz

Let me talk about another experience from my volunteer days, because I believe this is key.
I was helping a student with a text, I think, that he had to write for class, and he had no clue what to write about. Inwardly I was screaming at his desperation.
So we begin and he starts writing about a made up book, to motivate other youths to read, the point here was to provide a good experience and explanation so others could find interesting books and books interesting. But since he’s not a reader he couldn’t find the right words and couldn’t start the text properly.
It was clear: he didn’t have enough experience.
So what I did was simple, it is something all writers must do when they start thinking about a new story. I asked him questions.
So a couple was murdered? How?
So they were beaten to death? Why?
After every sentence I asked him one or two questions, and I did it for two reasons: firstly it was to keep the story tight and coherent; and finally it was to develop some brainstorming.
Every single one of us knows how to think, but writers need to push their thinking envelopes even more. That’s because writing is mostly a solitary job and one needs to get creative. Let me give you another simple example: he had to write another text about the importance of a smile, but had no clue on how to insert that importance in a text, hell, he didn’t even know how important a smile can be. Now I know he’s still somewhat of a kid, but that is no excuse. So we both started writing at the same time and I finished my story within 15 minutes. He had only three lines of text.
I explained to him what I’ll try to explain to you know.
The smile is key here; it needs a big moment or a big reveal to make it important. How can a smile be important? How can it have great meaning? Let’s think of a man and woman, or boy and girl, that seems easier. Now for a smile to be important there needs to be a situation where unhappiness is present. Who is unhappy? Why? Maybe the girl seems unhappy or distressed, then the male or protagonist can try to comfort her, try to understand what is going on. But what is the protagonist feeling? Why is he there? Why does he feel compelled to approach the girl? Will he even approach her? Maybe somebody else will do that?
This was my thought process while I was writing the story, and then I decided to take another step further: what if the girl is the one that smiles in the end? What if the smile of the girl is a lesson to the protagonist? It would change the perception of the reader and both characters could show some development by the time the story ends.
It was rather easy to write a simple story while having this in mind, but for an untrained mind it can be challenging to ask questions and stretch the imagination.
Ask questions.
That is all for today, have a nice day!