Last semester, I took a narrative illustration course at school. The entire semester consisted of developing a personal project. By the last day, we each had a portfolio containing a massive amount of written and visual material that encompassed our intellectual property. Perchance you noticed the colorful banner and/or background on this page. Both are products of my narrative illustration class, and it sure would be a shame to let all that tuition money go to waste. That being said, my current plan is to use my semester project as a springboard for my book. As an added bonus, that means I won’t have to change my blog’s background.
I don’t know how real professionals get their ideas, but I like charts. In this diagram, I wanted to establish a target audience and gain some focus. I tried to determine an overall “feel” to aim for.
Allow me to walk you through my thought process, since you probably can’t follow it without commentary. To begin, I brainstormed a handful of words that I wanted to embody the “feel” of my book. I came up with six different words and wrote them in separate blue circles. If you’ve ever played the game of word associations with someone, you’ll find that the next step is an awful lot like playing it against yourself. For each blue word, I wrote down a few ideas that I associated with that blue word. A lot of books and movies came to mind, but I included other things as well, like hot air balloons and carnivals. Some of my associations fit in multiple categories, so I inserted them into the green rectangles and connected them beneath as many categories as I felt they fit under.
This chart helps me see what kind of audience I am aiming to write for, and what existing materials relate to my book. It also helps me see what topics are worn out and which ones are more original. Basically, it gives me focus. Although I could continue to expand this chart, I think it gives me a good place to begin. I’ve got a pretty solid understanding of my target audience and my niche in the literary world. I’ve also got a hazy direction to start searching for a plot, and that’s the direction I’m headed next.