I had a recent experience that I found energizing, and I wondered if others did this.
Just as part of a fun (small) family get together, I ended up brainstorming with three non-writers. And now that I think of it, My Cowboy was sitting with us, and he might’ve even tossed in an idea or two, or at least nodded (or grunted) when something struck him as … uh … grunt-worthy. (?)
I have one daughter who has done some brainstorming with me before, but not often.
I remember once on a boat in a lake in Minnesota (I guess the fish weren’t biting) this same group started brainstorming, but rather than brainstorming my book, they started throwing ideas at me for the book they wanted me to write. It was fun, and very funny. We started because we thought if we could base a book on a Minnesota lake maybe we could deduct our fishing vacation. That never worked out. (I think the trip has to be MAINLY about your work rather than being mainly about fishing) We flunked that test but we still laughed a lot.
Anyway there’s a dead body at the bottom of the lake and some poor hapless heroine finds it, then they get cops who dive and find the bottom of the lake is someone’s ‘burial ground’. And the lake is privately owned and eerie and the heroine is not supposed to be on it. And then someone tries to kill the heroine and then the hero is one of the cops (the toughest, cutest one) and he thinks the heroine is the murderer, and then he ends up being her body guard.
At one point one of my daughters said, “And of course the guy who owns the eerie lake tries to drive amateur investigators away.” (We’ve abandoned the ‘burial ground’ idea by now)
And at one point one of my brainstorming buddies said, “I think we’ve just brainstormed and episode of Scooby Doo.”
Then we all laughed until we could barely breathe and go back to fishing.
But this time, instead of making up books, I just sort of casually mentioned that I started a new book on Friday. And I mean JUST started. I’d been daydreaming the beginning and had come up with something. And it was tense and suspenseful but not the EXPLOSION I like at the beginning of the book. And my one daughter, who’s probably the most writer-like of all my kids, starts by asking questions.
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Considering I have no real interest in changing the opening I’ve come up with—I was satisfied with the suspenseful opening—it was just chit-chat.
But she’s asking what the book's about. Well, it’s book one in a three book series. So it takes some ‘splaining. And then I answer and try to go forward and she keeps saying, ‘this doesn’t make sense.’ Or ‘I can’t really see this, did you…?’
So finally she starts to get the big picture, where book one fits, how this goes on from there, a glimpse of what I want out of book three. And she tosses an idea at me that is really an improvement in my suspenseful opening. Then my other daughter says something else, then my son-in-law says, “I watched this documentary once and this guy said…”
And my daughters (they’ve read most of my books) say, “I can’t remember you ever opening a book with…”
In the end I felt like I’d really gotten some terrific ideas that were just odd and different. And I’m using them. What’s cool about this is, I’m having a hard time really imagining writing this. It’s bigger and edgier and action packed, with danger coming from different directions.
And to me, attempting to write something I’m not really sure if I can write is fun. It’s fascinating. It sparks my creativity and makes the book something to sharpen my teeth on.
I can see movie action in it and this documentary my son-in-law watched was a way different kind of angle, really intriguing.
I just decided that as authors, who brainstorm with other authors, maybe we need to spread our wings a little more. Tap into a different set of ideas.
I’ve done some really great brainstorming with authors, too. Authors play a great game of ‘what if’.
But this was a group of rookies. It tapped into their different background. Less ‘book based’…if that makes sense.
Have you ever done it? Have you ever brainstormed with non-writers? Tell me about it, if it worked or didn’t.
I never had.
We’d invented book ideas that were fun but didn’t fit into my genre…like that far-out Scooby Doo idea at the lake…but I’d never really corralled these guys with one of my books.
I’m hoping if I dedicate my book to them, they’ll be sucked into doing it regularly. Ah, so gullible!!!