From Brainstorm to Storyline by Michael Ford

Posted on May 3, 2012 by in Writing

People often ask how we generate stories at Working Partners. Contrary to some popular thought, we don’t just plug a set of market variables  into a cunning machine that dispenses a three-act plot arc, nor do we have a million monkeys at type-writers hoping one lucky simian will strike gold.

Ideas for stories can come from any of our editorial team. It might be as little as a character or a title or a predicament, or perhaps a dramatic opening scene. That person then invites whoever is ready, willing and able to join them for an hour to knock the idea into shape. The only rules we have in brainstorming concepts is that we only do it for an hour, and that no one is allowed to use the word ‘No’ in response to someone else’s suggestion. All in the  spirit of creativity, of course.


Check out the original brainstorm titles for these WP series…

Charm Hall: original title Velvet the Witch CatSecret Ninja Spies: original title My Samurai GrannyLittle Sparkles: original title Party AnimalsThe Witch of Turlingham Academy: original title The Day Girl

Charm Hall: original title Velvet the Witch Cat

Secret Ninja Spies: original title My Samurai Granny

Little Sparkles: original title Party Animals

The Witch of Turlingham Academy: original title The Day Girl

What we want after that sixty minutes of temple-rubbing, gurning, wacky suggestions and the odd ‘Eureka moment’ is a perfect plot. What we more often get is an idea of genre, audience, the main characters, and lots of cool things that can happen in a roughly chronological order. Sometimes, what emerges from the process bears little resemblance to the initial idea, but that’s where the fun lies. You think you’re heading for a beach holiday, but suddenly you’re on skis.

At this stage a more focused editorial team of two or three will agree to take the project forward and digest all those ideas into something more concrete – a plot progression of beginning, middle and end. After that, when we think we’ve nailed the core structure, it’s just a case of layering.

It sounds easy, and sometimes it is.

Leave a Reply