Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lists for Inspiration

h 041 I’m a huge list maker.

This has a lot to do with my need to outsource my horrible memory.
It also helps me sleep better at night, knowing that I’ve thought of all the things I need to do the next day…and I haven’t dropped the ball anywhere.

So it’s only natural that making lists would help me write my book, too.

Somehow, it’s easier for me to come up with lots of different ideas if I make them into bullet points and put them in list form.  I can  focus my list and have it be:

My protagonist’s catch-phrases.
My protagonist’s features.  Different physical traits of my protagonist.
My protagonist’s facial expressions.

If you do this with plotting, it can be useful, too.  The idea is to come up with as many different resolutions for the scene you’re writing or for the next scene as you can…no matter how outlandish they might be.  Some ideas will be completely ridiculous, but some might end up being useful.

5 possible endings for this book.
5 twists.
5 possible subplots.
5 ways the subplots could tie into the main plot.

Or you could do it for character growth:

5 ways the character could grow.
5 surprising things that we could learn about a character.
Top 10 list of things that bother the protagonist (then 10 things that would drive the character crazy that I could write into the book.)
10 things this character loves more than anything.

You could find other uses for lists, too:

5 ways to add some unexpected elements to the book (humor, suspense, sadness, fear.)

5 ways to describe the setting.

I love making lists because sometimes I’m looking for a way to squeeze in just a little more writing—but I only have ten minutes.  That amount of time is perfect for list-making, and I’ve found the exercise can really help me brainstorm more ideas.

Sometimes I’ll just add list titles in my notebook and keep it in my car or laptop bag for when I end up with a little dead time.  That way I don’t even have to figure out what list I want to start…I can just jump right in.

Do you use lists to brainstorm?  Mind maps?  What works for you?