The second step of my NaNo prep is to expand on the idea I’ve come up with. There are a few methods that I use to expand on my ideas. Occasionally I will use one over the others but for the most part I use a bit of each of them.
Expanding With Word Clouds
This is basically the same as my last post except I already have an idea of what I’m writing instead of trying to figure it out.
When I use this method it is usually to write non-fiction. Each cloud outside of the central cloud is used as either a secondary topic or an expansion on a secondary topic.
Expanding With Lists
Similar to word clouds, this method involves word association. However, instead of placing each item in its own cloud, you write them into an unordered list. Once you have completed your list, you can organize it so that it is more fluid.
Again, this is a method that I use when writing non-fiction. However, when I already have a basic plot for a story, I will use this method to organize it.
Expanding With Conflicts
For this method you need to add conflicts to your idea. Occasionally for this method I will pair it with the “What If” game. For instance “What if zombies appeared?” or “What if the main character finds out they are ill?”
Once a conflict is added, it must then be made worse with a complication. For instance, the main character finds out they are ill. This can be made complicated by it being a hereditary disease and the main character is adopted. Perhaps they always knew they were adopted and never felt the need to find their birth family or maybe they never knew they were adopted.
This is one of my favourite methods for planning fiction as it allows plots to form organically.
Expanding With Questions
This is probably my favourite method of idea expansion because I find it the most fun. Quite literally the only thing you have to do is ask a question and answer it. Each answer should bring up another question. This builds up the idea because you are constantly answering new questions.
While the other methods work for fiction and non-fiction outlines, this method is my preferred one for world building. It may help me with plots and outlines but I find it usually builds more backstory than main story.
Let me know in the comments if these helped you with your NaNo planning or if you laugh in the face of outlines and are planning to pants.