A Writing “Brain Exercise,” by Drew Carson

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Photo Compliments of Morguefile.com

Hi, this is Michelle. I haven’t shared a tool on TOOLTIP TUESDAY for a while, but Drew, our teen contributor, sent me this exercise and I thought it would be a helpful tool for many writers. Please welcome Drew and thank him for this awesome idea.

Over the last few days, my head was feeling kind of top-heavy with ideas for my novel. I had ideas for my characters, and others for the universe. But the problem was, they were hard to tie together. There’s a certain density that needs to occur in a good story, and that occurs when all the different elements blend well. I call this technique, “weaving the story.”

Here’s a ‘brain exercise’ I found to help with this:

First, make three columns on a sheet of paper. Label the first column “Characters,” the second “Narrative Paths,” and the third “Settings.”

Second, fill in your columns. “Characters” is pretty self-explanatory, but make sure to include every character, no matter how small their role. This also goes for “Settings.” “Narrative Paths” is the column for the main struggle, subplots, themes, and important questions raised in your novel.

After you have done this, draw a random line from a character to a narrative path, and then to a setting. Continue making these random connections. When something makes sense, take note. Write down anything that sounds interesting.

Maybe a minor character will be elevated. Or maybe you’ll find that a certain setting has more than one purpose. This exercise is designed to make you see things you didn’t see before. If you have a lot of helter-skelter ideas, this is a good way to give them that density.


Try it yourself, and tell me what you come up with!

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  1. Azaria says:

    Hey Drew,
    Great post! Sounds like a great idea! I might just do that to get all of my ideas out without taking too much time; and then come back and ‘connect the dots’ so to speak, later on.

    • Drew Carson says:

      Hey Azaria –
      Thanks for commenting! That’s true – it also works well for organizational purposes. Sometimes just seeing all your ideas on paper can spark more ideas.

  2. Thank you so much. Great idea. I’m going to put it to use. Blessings.


  1. wejdź says:


    A Writing “Brain Exercise,” by Drew Carson

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