The Brainstorm; Writing through moments

How do you go about brainstorming your story?  How does that impact your style and form landmarks to guide you along the journey? I've been thinking about brainstorming a lot over the past couple of weeks.  I recently turned in a short story for my Fiction 2 workshop at Grub Street.  I had waited until the last minute to finish it and was burned out for a few days afterward.  I had three weeks to write my next story for the workshop but I was unable to settle on a topic or theme.  Procrastination got the best of me - Today - I've got a rough outline and less than a week to go (And I'm sitting here blogging to boot!)

I tend to write loose outlines for my stories.  If I know too much about the plot or characters, I lose interest and find the story boring to write. (It's already written in my head!)

I recently met a writer who does mind mapping to brainstorm.  I gave it a shot but I wrote too much about each little piece and my page became a total mess.  I usually make lists - start with a character's name, for example, and then list out everything that pops into my head.

Last night I had an epiphany - I brainstorm inmoments: The crooked frame on a wall that's noticed as the protagonist descends an old staircase, a warning label that is slightly smudged, the way a plate looks after dinner at a nice restaurant - serrated knife lying over a pile of gristle.  These are the kind of moments that propel my writing and give me pieces to plug in, draw from and expand upon.

I jotted down the following notes during my class last night:


-Always keeps suit on

-Plaque/pic of Bronson & space ship/American flag - but he is British

- Bedroom locker - called locker b/c it is so small - cubbies for clothes

  - taped pics to walls & ceiling (monkey in space suit), political cartoons

  - pics of home & people - how quickly you yearn for details after the planet amazes you

Drop out airlock in bottom of ship

Doesn't have enough time to wait for depressurization & hits emergency button to suck himself out when going out in the end

never use all 5


Pretty random, right?  I know the basic story (astronauts collecting space trash) but everything on the page is a tiny moment/image from (maybe) a TBD part of the story.  The organization of my thoughts changed on the page after every new moment - I moved down the page, across, left huge chunks of space.  It's my style.

What's yours?