Writing a Story Part 7: More Brainstorming

I realized this evening that the last two posts in this series had the wrong title, so I corrected those first. When this is all said and done, I want anyone to be able to search for “Writing a Story” on this site and find the whole series. I’ll create a page with links, too.

We’re getting close to the fun part. I enjoy drafting, once I get into it. To get ready to draft, I keep thinking about the characters and the story until something vaguely story-shaped is in my head. Some of the best stuff will come out of the discovery part of the draft, but before I feel comfortable exploring the void, I want to have at least an idea of where this thing is going.

In previous brainstorming, we wrote:

What does the plot look like at this point?

  • We start in a burning building and our protagonist is in the middle of fighting a fire
  • They rescue someone, using their elemental gift without realizing that’s what they’re doing. The person they rescue recognizes it for what it is, though.
  • The rescued shows up at the fire station and it seems they’re going to be a nuisance trying to thank our hero, but they’re really there to talk to them about the elemental world
  • We need something to set the stakes
  • We need to push our hero out of their comfort zone
  • We need to put our hero in peril
  • Our hero needs to learn something/embrace who they are to overcome the peril and save themselves/save the day
  • We close with the hero taking a larger step into the world they’ve just become part of

A lot of this is vague, and some of it doesn’t really work with Angela the Firefighter. Our main character wants validation. If one of the people she saves comes looking for her, it will give her what she wants and let out most of the tension. It should be something else, which will give Angela a chance to be more proactive. We want her to direct the story and not passively receive it.

Let’s tweak what we came up with before.

  • We start outside the burning building with Angela. She’s checking her gear, and she’s checking herself. She’s trained for this, but this is her first time facing a real life-or-death situation.
  • We follow Angela into the building. She’s a little nervous, but it’s somehow easier than she imagined it would be. She’s in tune with the fire, and it’s responding to her, though she doesn’t realize that’s what’s going on yet. This is where we’ll sprinkle the first hints that she has a supernatural ability
  • Angela finds someone in the building that isn’t supposed to be there. This other person is terrified, and Angela is having a hard time rescuing them. While Angela is still trying to figure it out, water from one of the hoses blasts through a window, and the stranger bends the water and uses it to escape.
  • With all of the smoke and the fire and the tension of the situation, Angela will question the whole experience as something imagined or hallucinated, especially after checking the hospital and finding no sign of the person that escaped. She’ll keep searching, and eventually find some camera footage showing the stranger escaping.
  • Angela will gather and follow the clues until she finds the stranger and they have a confrontation. Something interesting will happen in this scene — not sure what yet — but eventually the stranger will confirm that they’re an elementalist and they’re after a fire dancer named XXX that is going down I-5, starting fires wherever they go
  • In for a penny, in for a pound, Angela decides to help their new friend, if for no other reason than to stop the arsonist. As they travel, the stranger will tell Angela more about the gift and nuances of the secret world
  • They’ll find a burn site down I-5, investigate, and find some clues as to what the antagonist is doing and where they’re going. Maybe they catch the antagonist in the act and they’re able to stop them. We should get some hint that it’s more complicated than Angela’s friend has made it out to be
  • They get to the third site, but XXX laid a trap for them. The water shaper is incapacitated or knocked out. Angela and XXX have a final confrontation, and Angela consciously uses the fire for the first time, and beats XXX (but does not kill them — Let’s try to have no murder or deaths in this story)
  • We have a final scene with all 3, and Angela surprises everyone by going with XXX to help them with whatever their deal is, but with less villainy

Something like that. We’re more specific, now. There’s lots of gaps and places where we can shift things.

It’s game night. I’ll sign off here. Next time, let’s do a little bit more world building and maybe look at our villain and our secondary character a little bit more.