Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo and I’ve already managed to get my 1,667 words in for the day. I hope that all of you are making great progress as well. I wanted to share with you all a great way to get a story started, if you are stuck and lacking ideas.
A few years ago I attended a comic writing workshop taught by Kelly Sue DeConnick and in the workshop, she walked us through a writing activity where we started with a setting, created characters with basic traits, and figured out theme/world/plot from there.
Eventually, that exercise inspired me to create this worksheet, so that I could easily run myself through it. I use it whenever I am trying to brainstorm a story, but I’m unsure where to start. For short stories, generally, this sheet and a brief outline are enough for me to write a story from start to finish. For longer fiction, this sheet tends to be the first brick in the wall. I will have a link to the PDF at the end of the post, here’s a preview of the worksheet:
This worksheet can be used backward or forwards, depending on what kind of writer you are. I tend to start with a theme. I figure out what kind of truth I want to tell in the story, and that helps me nail down what kind of characters I need, what the plot will be about, etc. I also tend to write details about submission due dates, word count requirements and other details in the “Title” section of this sheet, so I can keep track of what I’m working on.
You can start with characters if that is how you prefer to write story, or plot. Or if you have an idea for a story, but nowhere to put it yet, jot it down on the worksheet and hold onto it until you feel ready to flesh it out. By no means do you need to start and work from top to bottom with this sheet, you can make the worksheet work for you.
That’s probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last year of writing. Make the tools work for you. If outlining a certain way is difficult and you find you work better when you reverse engineer an outline, do that instead.
Story Brainstorming Worksheet – Click Here to Download