Some days you just need some opinions.
Maybe you’re torn between names for your protagonist. Maybe you’re having trouble coming up with a minor character’s motivations, or the right job for the love interest. Maybe you’re just interested in finding out what people think makes a good protagonist.
Sometimes, the best way to find new ideas is by crowdsourcing: asking a whole group of people for their input and ideas. I’ve tried a whole variety of methods: I’ve asked the same question of a whole lot of people in person, I’ve asked around on Twitter, I’ve posted questions and polls on Facebook.
In my experience, the best results I’ve gotten have been from active writing groups on Facebook– I prefer ones like Nanowrimo, Writer Unboxed, and the New Writers Help Group. If you’ve got questions that are specific to one genre or topic, try going to a group specific to that topic, like this Steampunk group over here. Often members of Facebook groups are excited to help, and are willing to cast a vote or give a quick comment. You might even get in contact with experts in the field, whom you could interview for more in-depth information.
If you don’t get results right away, don’t get discouraged. Try sourcing from a different crowd.
Have you tried crowdsourcing? What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t? Let us know in the comments!