My mom told me a story once, about one of my dad’s old coworkers. He was having trouble figuring something out, and needed help. So someone pointed to a toy duck sitting in the corner of the room and told him to go explain it to the duck. It felt really silly and kinda embarrassing, talking to a plastic duck, but by the time he’d finished explaining it, he understood the problem and realized how to fix it.
How does this work? It’s the act of putting your thoughts into words. Sometimes, you know it, inside and out, in your head, but aren’t sure what the problem is or how to fix it. But, when you force your brain to form it into actual words so you can speak, you see something that you missed before. Aha!
And that’s why I say every writer needs a duck. It does not actually need to be able to listen. I do not have a duck, myself, so at these points I usually ramble at my brothers, who, for whatever reason, never seem to be very interested. They say they are, but they never act like it. That’s probably my fault though—I’ve rambled so much, they grew bored. Then again, that’s assuming they were interested to begin with, which, I don’t remember happening.
Anyway, sometimes, you actually need to brainstorm. You need an actual person who can listen, and give bits of input. At these times, I have a few options. Sometimes, I try to use my brothers again, but it always fails, sadly. They never seem to have any ideas at all. Once upon a time, I could have rambled at my cousin, but she’s so busy working, she doesn’t have time to even read my stories, let alone help me brainstorm.
Then, recently, I realized I can ramble at my best friend. I still have no clue why he even bothers listening to my rambles, but he does, apparently. And usually his commentaries are amusing. Unless he’s tired.
Or is he just using that as an excuse?
If I knew he didn’t read this, I’d change my earlier statement from brothers to boys, but he probably will read this, so I won’t. Maybe. We’ll see.
But that’s off point again! Brainstorming is very important to telling a story, I think. Because often, your first idea isn’t good enough. It works, but it’s not the most original or the best for your story and characters. That’s when you need the second idea, or the third, or fourth, or…whatever idea it is you’re on. With my story, I’m probably on the three hundredth. My fault for rewriting so many times. At least I like it right now.
So, go find a duck. They can help you do the brainstorming.