A Brainstorming Cheat Sheet

July 22, 2009 at 10:41 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

When thinking about what to write today I was completely stumped. I imagine I was having similar feelings to what newspaper journalists have three days before a deadline having nothing interesting happen at all. But then I remembered, I am not a journalist, I am a writer and it got my thinking, where do I go for QUICK inspiration.

If you ask a lot of writers what inspires them they are going to say life. I would say exactly the same thing, but in reality it’s not completely true. While an initial spark can be started by something as simple as a street performer or a television advertisement. I flesh out my ideas using the faithful friendly neighbourhood internet.

So for this article I thought I would share some of the websites that I used to get a fuller picture of my idea’s. Don’t get me wrong. I know some of you will put a pen to paper having a full idea in your head, but for me this initial ‘fleshing out’ process sends my minds into offshoots which is always helpful in forming an interesting story.

My current work in progress (Corded Bars), stemmed from a story I had heard in passing about the origin of the boy scouts. The basics of the story see an Army guy teaching boys the arts and morals behind warfare in an attempt to teach them to be good people or more extremely help carry information in the war effort. This idea got me thinking and the first place I go when I’m thinking is Wikipedia.


Now if you are like my high school teachers who equate Wikipedia with the devil of scholastic research then I remind you that at this stage I’m just searching for ideas. And when you are just dying to figure out an idea Wikipedia is the take four steps and roll again card in monopoly. In essence: Who cares how factual it is? You’re just mulling over ideas! (Although I give Wikipedia credit, they’re pretty close on a lot of things).

My search began at scouts and using the links embedded in the page led my too a chap known as Lord Baden Powell, a few steps later and I was at Espionage. And from a single story and Wikipedia I had a basic idea of what I wanted in my story.

But Wikipedia isn’t just useful in those areas. I wanted to know what a specific desert was like. It didn’t really matter about the specifics, but wanting to be close enough to factual as I could warrant researching I scanned Wikipedia. And from the description I was able to produce a description that seemed accurate without too much work.
But enough about plot and setting and all those things you have to research on Wikipedia. What about characters. I generally sketch my characters before I name them or even give them personality points. It helps me get a sense of who they are. However, as I am generally abysmal when it comes to sketching I resort to face generators, doll makers and picture sites to find my characters. Of course generally you can only find human looking characters on these sites so those of you who decide my make a new species may be stuck with drawing or crawling over Deviant Art.

For me the easiest way to make your perfect character is Morphthing.com its morphs celebrities together to get your perfect character. One of my MC’s is a combination of about 16 different guys. This website does however generally lead to having a complete set of perfect looking Main characters but it’s just a guide. Another site that’s popular among my author friends is Newfaces.com this one is more a search for people who look similar to your characters as you can’t change them to suit.

If all else fails I would use a doll maker. Doll makers create animated style characters and can help you when you want to experiment with different styles for the person. Should this character be gothic or should this character be a classic trackies and a shirt person. No doubt the character will look good in either (It’s a doll they are supposed to) but you will more than likely have a different reaction. Of all the doll makers available I suggest using Elouai.com and its multitude of doll makers. You can make anything from a Greek God to a Harry Potter character and the graphics allow for a manipulation of a wide variety of emotions, either way they helped bring out my Punk Rocker Jordyn and my disciplined but visually stunning Kate.

Overall these sites helped guide me into my characters. Whether they just helped me visualise or express what was already stuck somewhere in my subconscious I can’t really say, but they proved themselves as an invaluable resource.

So what exactly have I been saying in this big ramble of a blog. Well basically when you have an idea, don’t sit there racking your brain for inspiration or for the world to provide you with the whole back story and plot too. You should run at your idea, grab hold and drag it if necessary. Just explore the possibilities and use every website and application to your advantage.
As always I would love to hear your thoughts. Have any websites you use for ideas, feel free to share :)




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  1. Hehehe. :D I’m a huge WIki fan. And I so make dolls/files full of pictures from NewFaces. *scuttles off to check out Morphthing* I also make my characters on Sims. XD

  2. I use flickr.com a lot. Everywhere you’ve never been, someone’s been there on vacation and posted their photos to flickr. There’s also a lot of art, and photoshopped images so you can find fantastical things and people on there too. And many of the users are amazingly skilled photographers. Sometimes just a gorgeous picture of some forest somewhere can spark new ideas…

  3. I love Wiki too, haha. And I do the Sims thing too, Elu! lol Great Post Alyce =]

  4. I’m a fan of newfaces and I really do need the sims 3 so i can make accurate interpretations on that!
    great post x

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