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Brainstorming and Other Invention Techniques

Chapter 2 of Fowler and Aaron’s The Little, Brown Handbook, ninth edition (R 808.042 F829L 2004), is titled “Developing and Shaping Ideas.” Basically, what we mean in writing when we talk about devloping ideas, or invention, is the process of generating ideas and information, or of discovering ideas. There are various methods of doing this, such as keeping a journal, observing your surroundings, freewriting, listing (also called brainstorming), clustering, questioning, patterning, reading, and thinking critically. Purdue University’s “Owl” Writing Center has an excellent website devoted to invention techniques. Here at Nicholls, one of our preferred techniques is brainstorming, or concentrating on a subject for a fixed time and listing every idea that comes to mind.

Useful Information About Brainstorming

You will probably find that it is difficult, at best, to find books about keeping brainstorming in the library’s catalog (eLibrary). Therefore, you may decide to search the web for educational institutions that have posted definitions, descriptions, and examples of the process on their webpages. Our suggestion would be for you to go to Google, the web’s most efficient search engine, and type in the following, spaces and quotation marks included:

“research paper” topic brainstorming site:.edu

This will return some 18,000 hits. You can further narrow this number by adding more specific terms to your search, or trying a phrase like “how to brainstorm.”

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