I know I’m in the minority when I say that I’m an extroverted writer. I can see why most writers are introverts – people can be scary sometimes, and being alone is the perfect company for bringing that story alive. So I thought I’d share some processes I learned in drama, because some of them have helped me hugely in my writing.
At the moment in drama, we’re completing a playbuilding unit – basically, you choose a theme, expand it by improvising, cut the ideas that aren’t as good and keep making it better. I tried the process in writing.
But first, this was our drama process. We started with our theme – barriers – and started brainstorming from there. We came up with barriers that are only in people’s minds, physical barriers…all different kinds. But then we came up with the barrier of the fourth wall, and we knew that we’d hit the jackpot.
Obviously this won’t work with writing. But I tried it a different way with writing. I wrote down a theme and started brainstorming things – for instance, a theme could be loneliness, and an idea could be something as high-concept as Doctor Who or a YA contemporary story. That’s the thing – brainstorming gets those ideas out.
Once I’ve done that, I then write a page on about three of my good ideas. I toss one and keep working on the other two, until I’ve got a little short story. If I want to expand it from there, I will. If not…well, there are plenty of other ideas out there.
For those of you that have trouble thinking of ideas, it’s a great way to start. Picking a theme is essential to your novel or story, because it provides a backbone for you to work from. We scrapped our entire play last week, characters, plot and all, but kept the same backbone.
Go ahead and try it out. This method obviously won’t work for everyone, but I just thought I’d share it. Drama and writing both tell stories, and have a surprising amount of parallels.
So tell me: what method do you use to start off a new project?