Monday, December 5, 2016

Brainstorming with a non-writer brain


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!!!

120 comments :

  1. I've never brain stormed with writers! I think it would be fun to see what kind of outlandish ideas a group of non-writers and one writer could come up with :-) You never know, it could spark some new story ideas! Or it could make for a really good real-life comedy hour...haha!

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    1. Whatever else it is, Trixi, it is really FUN. I think everyone sort of wants to be a writer...but mostly they don't want to sit down and write (it's loads of work)
      But to BRAINSTORM a book, now that can be fun.

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  2. I brainstorm with my husband a lot, or more, I basically talk things through with him and if I can't figure out a plot point, he sometimes helps me, mostly I still come up with the idea myself but his ideas spark my move to something else. I think talking aloud to someone has its merits.

    Others? All I've gotten is either fairly lame or cliche ideas from others.

    One family member asked if I'd be willing to put in his missing dog flyer. Not as like an actual part of the story, but the actual missing dog flyer so someone can help him find it....had to explain that missing pet posters don't exactly find their way into books much. :)

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    1. Melissa that's funny, and actually sparks an idea for me. But have I ever really done brainstorming with my husband? Not much, maybe by accident. I ask her questions about cattle and such, but that's not the same. I like that idea. I might try it.

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    2. When I say 'that's funny'. I'm referring to the dog missing poster.

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  3. Not a writer, Mary, but am happy to brainstorm ;) Mostly I've been able to toss ideas out for titles or naming places, but less often for plotting ideas or story points... What a fun thing to do with your family! I love how the novelty of it really paid off for your creativity and got the ideas flowing for your family too! Can't wait to read what comes of this!

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    1. Fedora, do you know any writers near you? You could volunteer! :) I really think my co-horts in brainstorming had fun.

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    2. That would be fun! I'm sure there are many writers locally, although I haven't checked. Mainly I've had the pleasure of connecting with some online--the great connector (but not the Great Connector ;) )

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  4. <Hi Mary:

    As you were describing your lake book idea, I got this strong feeling of deja vu. I read a book like that by Nevada Barr called "A Superior Death" and while it was eerie it took place in Lake Superior. Nevada Barr may be the best writer at incorporating the setting (environment) into the fabric of the story. Love her national park mysteries.

    I've brainstormed for years in advertising with non writers and, you know, I'm not sure the new ideas and approaches come from non-writers per se but rather from people with different backgrounds that we have never brainstormed with before.

    I'd like to see 'speed brainstorming' (think 'speed dating) where you brainstorm with writers you never met before and may never meet again (say at a conference), where you brainstorm for just 5 minutes each and then move on to the next writer. Do about ten writers per hour. I'd love to do that and help Nora or Linda. : )

    Are you not having a book drawing? Is the cat dish at the cleaners?

    Vince

    P.S.
    I think you should write a cozy entitled: "The Mice that Roared".

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    1. Vince, we had a really fun "Speed-dating" with the author thing at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat last summer, and it was so much fun! Honestly, I think it would be more fun and more productive to do the speed brainstorming with readers... because they're thinking outside the box!!!

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    2. VINCE!!! You read Nevada Barr? I'm a HUGE fan. I read all her new books as soon as they come out.
      There's also a Clive Cussler book like this with a missing plane (missing for decades) found at the bottom of a lake. Only when our hero Dirk Pitt (does anyone read Clive Cussler? He's GREAT) finds the plane--with the skeletons or the crew still there... there is a FRESHLY DEAD BODY IN IT!

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    3. I just could never quite incorporate my cowboys into diving and a lake.

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    4. Hi Ruth: Yes, out of the box is good but fresh ideas from inside the box are most likely better. If you were a brain surgeon brainstorming on operational techniques would you want patients in the group or other surgeons?

      The thing about readers is you have to know what they are going to want to read a year or two before they know it!

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    5. Hi Mary: I've read Nevada Barr since her first book. I like her first six books the best. The same for J. A. Jance, Judith Van Gieson, and Tony Hillerman. The first books seem to have the most power because what can be written about but when over six books are written in a series then many options have closed. I've read all Louis L'Amour books, some two and three times. All of Betty Neels of which at least 100 are the same book written with different characters, locations and house interiors. Amazing how satisfying they still are each time! It's like having your favorite Starbucks coffee each morning and loving it each time. Well worth reading to see how she does this. Harlequin reprints her books as classics! (BTW: that one book -- she lived that story first and then started writing in her 60's! Still wrote over 130 books!)

      BTW: I've just started reading a new mystery writer (to me) who has a rewards per page number off the charts. More than Nora and Linda Howard! She's Kerry Greenwood and she writes the "Miss Fisher Mysteries". Her books are now an international tv series. Love it. Start with "Cocaine Blues". Amazing! This book had to take years of research. A reward almost every sentence. Wow!

      Vince

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    6. I'll do it, Vince. And I've read Betty Neel but not all. I should check in the library to see if they've got at least a few of hers. Kerry Greenwood, huh?
      This has been a crazy rich month for me, reading-wise.
      A new : Baldacci, Connelly, Child and Flynn. All in the same month!

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    7. Vince, I once brainstormed at a conference workshop with a group of about 15-20 (some I didn't know). It was just an informal get together to brainstorm for each author. I have to say it wasn't successful for me. Most had never read Christian fiction and the ideas were all over the place. But I guess that's what brainstorming is supposed to be! The problem could've been me. I think some of the participants took away ideas they could use.

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    8. Hi Missy:

      I've been in over 100 brainstorming sessions over the years and the key for me has been this: it's not the ideas that others bring up; it's the ideas that those ideas set off in your mind that are the most productive.

      Example: someone in the group brings up the Wizard of Oz and how they want a story like it. You, after thinking about the Wizard, form an image of Harry Potter in your mind, which in turn. stimulates an idea for a new twist in a romance novel which you then use to great success. This is why it is so important in each brainstorming session to never 'edit' any ideas as they are produced. The goal is to produce the most new or odd ideas, record those ideas(our sessions were recorded and a transcript was handed out later), let the session cool off in your mind, then go back to the transcripts and see what those ideas can now trigger in your 'in the box' mind.

      We really never expected the first generation of ideas to have any useable material but we always expected that some of those ideas would later generate new and useable ideas.

      You have to 'feed' your muse lots of ideas if you expect her to keep the flow to you coming.

      Vince

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  5. Hi Mary. Great post. I have brainstormed with my husband before and we had so much fun doing it. We were on a carriage ride at the time in an old quaint city and we brainstormed an idea for a cozy mystery. It was fun getting his thoughts and insights.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy W. I'm going to see if My Cowboy is up for this. I really like the idea.
      And I can't help but laugh about the carriage ride (which sounds so cool) and the brainstorming. You and your husband, on a romantic ride, and you're talking about murder plots.
      Aren't writers just the best? LOL

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    2. Cindy, I really need to try brainstorming with my husband. I haven't done that much at all.

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  6. Hi Mary! Some of my favorite ideas come from brainstorming with non-writer's. Reminiscing with family members always sparks memories that can be used in my writing. When no one is around, brainstorming with the local paper is also an option.

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    1. Jill, you mean you read the paper for ideas?
      That's a great idea.
      Don't shows like CSI and LAW & ORDER do take-offs of real news stories all the time?

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  7. Hi Mary,
    I love that you brainstormed with your family. I've done it with my husband while traveling and he really has no option but to participate or jump out of a moving vehicle.
    Jill, I love getting ideas from the newspaper or listening to people talk. Once I pitched a story idea to an editor who said it would never happen. The thing is, it did happen. At least the beginning, and I changed the end.
    Thanks for sharing, Mary!

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    1. Jackie LOL. I'm picturing My Cowboy, trapped and forced to brainstorm.

      I wonder if he would help? He likes to give me his opinion AFTER the book is released. Too late then!

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  8. Sixteen years ago I came across this awesome felt board for pirates. It was a map of an island. When I saw it I knew I could come up with some exciting stories to use with the kids at church. I created Christian pirate stories and the kids loved them. The cool part is they were constantly coming to me with more ideas. The kids who are grown now still talk about those stories.

    Since the board and the names are copyrighted. I am in the process of trying to rewrite the story changing all the names etc, so no copyright laws will be broken.

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    1. Wilani, that sounds like such a great way to engage kids.
      When I was a Sunday School teacher I almost always ignored the regular material and branched out on my own. I found that if I did one chapter each Sunday from Luke, plus took days off from that to focus on the season, Christmas got a full month, Easter-Pentacost-Lent, plus I'd stray from Luke for a few favorite other Bible stories I thought were compelling for that age group...doing all that, I had a full year of classes from that one short book.
      And no one cared because I was the Sunday School Superintendent

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    2. Wilani, what a great way to have fun and engage the kids! That's so cool that they remember it. :)

      Mary, I remember when you used to talk about writing SS material or maybe it was Christmas plays? So fun!

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    3. I did the Christmas Sunday School plays, I have five of them published!
      But I never really THOUGHT about writing Sunday School material, but I kinda did, didn't I?

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    4. It's difficult to find good Christmas plays. Where can we buy your plays?

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  9. Good Morning, Mary!

    I have never brainstormed with non-authors. I do have a friend who tells me her dreams that she thinks would make a good book!

    In full disclosure, other than my sister, my family doesn't read my books so they'd really have no idea what to throw out in a brainstorming session. HA! I'm sure I'd get Disney Princess ideas from my granddarlings or Vampire ideas from my DIL or non-fiction ideas from my son or history ideas from my husband. AND now you see why they don't read romance...their reading interests are quite varied!

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    1. Hi Rose. I'm lonely for you. We need to get together.

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    2. I know! Unfortunately, my schedule won't free up until after December. I've been called to Federal Jury Duty. As if my Christmas season wasn't rushed before!

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  10. I always brainstorm ideas with my Mountain Man. The best part is, if I'm wondering if something will work in a scene, he usually helps me act things out to make sure it will work. Some of the things he's had me do have included cutting a limb off a tree with a multi-tool pocket knife and cooking and eating an MRE (meals ready to eat). I love having him take part in writing. :) I've also brainstormed with my daughter and her sister-in-law before.

    Thanks for a great post, Mary!

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    1. Rhonda, he ACTS THINGS OUT WITH YOU???
      Oh that sounds so fun.

      I'm definitely going to try this. He might enjoy it.
      PS I changed the brainstormed beginning already....I added a VILLAIN.

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  11. Morning Mary This whole episode sounds so like you. LOL I can just picture all of you sitting in a boat discussing dead bodies. Too funny.
    I used to brainstorm with my hairdresser who was a single, very handsome man. I'd ask him male POV on the situations I had and he gave me some great ideas to deepen my male character and also give me clues as to the modern dating going on now--something I need since I haven't dated in over 50 years. LOL

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    1. SANDRA I BET HE LOVED THIS! He probably encouraged you to have a hair style that'd make you come in really often just so he could talk with you about this.
      Oh what fun. Being at the hair dresser is so boring.

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  12. Oh Mary I just loved your post today! I can't wait to dig into the series. :) I am still a developing writer but I do a weird brainstorm with my husband. At night I ask him to tell me a story. He usually balks and says "You're the writer. You tell ME the story." But I get him to join me often and he definitely has a different take on things.

    Have a wonderful day!

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    1. Kelly and his different take...I think that's such a great way to keep things fresh.

      My Cowboy is such a GUY. He once read one of my books and said something like, "No man would ever say this...."

      And I said, "Help me before it's in print or keep your opinions to yourself!"

      (well I may have said it a bit nicer than that!!! LOL )

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  13. Mary, LOVED the lake story!! Mostly the image of your family sitting around in a boat fishing while throwing out ideas, catching more eye-rolls than fish!

    Like Melissa, Cindy, Jackie, and Rose, I brainstorm with my husband, which is SO very easy since we are together 24/7. I would definitely say Keith is my #1 brainstormer and because he is NOT my market (even though he reads ALL of my books), he comes up with some pretty cool and unique ideas that I never would. His fingerprints are on every single one of my books, mostly toning me down in the romance department though, God love him. I guess he's actually closer to my market than I am ... ;)

    You asked: "Have you ever done it? Have you ever brainstormed with non-writers? Tell me about it, if it worked or didn’t."

    During the writing of my Daughters of Boston series, I worked at a travel company, so I had this group of friends whom I actually referred to as "Club D" because we always went to this restaurant called Donohue's for brainstorming lunches. One of those gals actually saved my butt with A Passion Most Pure when my editor's husband (an Irish historian, for crying out loud) claimed I couldn't have the O'Connors travel from Boston to Dublin in 1917 because of German U-boat warfare when all passenger ships were commandeered for the war effort. A voracious reader, this woman read everything from fiction to nonfiction and just happened to read an article about freighter convoys during WWI, a method of travel that greatly reduced the percentage of sinkings by German u-boats. WOW. Talk about an answer to my prayers and tears because my plot could remain intact with the O'Connors traveling on a freighter in a convoy owned by Patrick O'Connor's cousin!!

    And it was Club D that came up with the ingenious idea of giving John Brady a twin in A Passion Denied, which not only totally altered the plot, but enriched and deepened it as well.

    None of my friends in Club D were writers, so yes, I have brainstormed with nonwriters most successfully and thoroughly enjoyed it, even calling emergency brainstorming sessions to get over a bump in the road on future books.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. I remember that freighter convoy. You found that waaaaaaay late in the game! The book already written and then suddenly your characters can't get from Boston to where the story was set in Ireland. HUGE TROUBLE!
      And brainstorming saved you. How fun is that?? :)

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  14. Hi Mary
    I'd actually like to read that Scooby-Doo episode you brainstormed on the lake. Of course, Scooby-Doo was my favorite Saturday morning cartoon fare when I was a child so...

    Can't say I've brainstormed much with others. Maybe a little with my birth mom on the last MS I finished. Oh, I did some brainstorming with Guppy - but he's a bit literal and kept wanting to put in stuff from his favorite TV shows. Still, he's pretty good at telling momma if an idea doesn't work for him. ;)

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    1. I think maybe Scooby Doo, which probably told the exact same story EVERY WEEK! Might be the perfect classic plot.
      We should all write at least one Scooby Doo book.
      "And I'd have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for this darned kids!!!"

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  15. I'm not an author but I am very aware of the benefits of brainstorming. My co-workers and I often had sessions of throwing out thoughts to find better ways to serve our library patrons. Thanks for sharing!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Connie, my one daughter is always saying, "This is brainstorming. There are no bad ideas."

      It's her joke line if anyone has a really BAD IDEA. LOL

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  16. I love working with non-writers, just to get the ideas flowing. We authors tend to stay in the groove. Non-writers see life the way it really is, or they shoot out thoughts that make you see from a new direction.

    It's a whole different kind of vision.

    And then it opens my head to new ways to look at things. And that is so much fun!

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    1. See this is it exactly. As writer's we are so MIRED in our writing style that it's hard to break out of it and stay fresh.

      But non-writers have no idea what a 'writing style' is so they come packaged as FRESH.

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  17. And still embedded comments, oh be still my heart. I LOVE THESE!!!!!

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    1. I've never done embedded comments before. This is pretty easy. I can find people and talk directly to them. (at least in my own mind I'm talking to them.)

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  18. This is another reason I've kept my day job part time, because non-writers live very different lives.... and these young people I work with every day (kids and parents) are always facing life issues that work in story telling.

    That honestly helps me to not only see but develop a story based on what I see/hear/do with my families.

    And it doesn't have to be exactly what's going on with them, but it invites me to think the "what ifs" and how to develop them.

    And in full disclosure, they know they're going into books! Mostly!!!! ;)

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    1. Or your twisted vision of them is going into books.

      I once had a table full of ladies at church as me if any of them, or any local people, made it into my books.

      My answer: Nope, none of you are crazy enough.

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  19. Good morning, Mary! I've sometimes brainstormed with non-writers when I'm stuck in a story or am trying to push forward in a proposal synopsis. I can get so buried in it I can't see the forest for the trees and brainstorming with someone who isn't in the weeds with me can sometimes really help. Even if they don't give you the actual answer, they get your brain out of the rut and you can spin off their ideas.

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    1. See Glynna THIS is the real beauty of brainstorming. It's not their ideas, it's that you can bounce OFF their ideas and head in a new direction.

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  20. I brainstorm with my husband who's an English Lit teacher so it usually goes something like this:
    "Honey, I need ideas for a cool plot twist."
    My husband: "How about the hero thinks his love is dead and kills himself except she's only unconscious?"
    me: "Um...isn't that Romeo and Juliet?"
    "Right. What about the hero gets thrown into prison and is slated to be executed but then his friend drugs him and changes clothes with him and helps him escape with the heroine and their daughter and the friend dies for him?"
    "Sounds like 'A Tale of Two Cities.'"
    "Well, I don't know contemporary romance."
    "Uh-huh. K, well thanks anyway."

    See what I'm working with here? So, instead, I brainstorm with my (non-writer) girlfriends, sometimes even the cashier at the grocery store, the librarian, etc. You never know where a great idea will come from!

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    1. JOSEE LOL. Maybe it would work if he could use some slightly LESS wildly famous plots.

      And seriously how dumb is Juliet that she never thought to check if Romeo was BREATHING before she killed herself. The big dork.

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    2. Mary - don't even get me started on Romeo and Juliet. It's the ultimate tragedy. It's an incredibly sad story.

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    3. Yep, that Shakespeare can be a real downer.

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  21. Hi Mary! I 'talk over' scenes and ideas regularly with a non-writer who reads a lot in many different genres. She brings up questions and makes observations that are always helpful, even if I don't use them, because they encourage me to look at something differently. Keeps the writer-creativity alive, ya know?

    So you don't think you can work a body at the bottom of a lake into a historical? :-)

    Nancy C

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    1. Nancy, LOL it's the SCUBA gear that's slowing me down.

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  22. MARY, this is interesting. I don't brainstorm enough. When I do, it's usually with my critique partner and usually after I run into a problem. I have also brainstormed with other professionals, usually when there's a workshop-type blog on Seekerville or two years ago when I won the plot consultation with Cathy Yardley.
    I could possibly do it more. I've been afraid to do it with an WIP because if you talk about it you very often lose it, but I could do it with early plotting or stories I haven't thought of yet. "What if" is powerful.
    Thanks to Glynna and Sandra for responding to my conundrum on Saturday. The book in question was actually one of Glynna's, which I won I think in October and haven't had time to review yet. We are having a SNOW DAY here in NH and I am Home All Day, so I will review it today and post it.
    Back later. Snow day, more time for Seekerville.
    KB

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    1. kaybee I'm a BIG believer in not letting anyone CRITIQUE an unfinished book. I think that can really steer you i the wrong direction.

      Brainstorming though, you might have a point there.
      Now I'm not so sure if it's a good idea.

      You got to see GLYNNA AND SANDRA????

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    2. I didn't physically see them, Mary, I chatted with them on Weekend Edition about the length of time it's permissible to take to review an LI, LIH or LIS book, since they are on the shelves so briefly. They were helpful and I went ahead and reviewed the book.

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    3. Oh, yes, got it. Okay I can ratchet down my jealousy!

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  23. I don't brainstorm at all, but if you bring chocolate and coffee I can fake it!

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    1. I could SAY I'd bring chocolate, but I'd probably eat it before I got to you.

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  24. What a fabulous idea! Now....can you give me some hints to suck my family into brainstorming. Honestly, at our table, if I start a conversation with "So I started a new book" I think they might get up from the table and run! I do have some fabulous co-workers that are always willing to toss ideas at me during our recess duty. I think I'll start trying to utilize them a little more. :)

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    1. You know, LeAnne this is kinda me too. I don't think they find writer talk all that interesting (shocker!)
      But I caught them at a slow time...I guess. Hmmmm...maybe I need cookies or something to lure them in.

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  25. I've never actually brainstormed with a group (or even seriously with another author!). But my 4 very best friends from high school days have said that the next time we're all together they're going to chime in with some great ideas for me (they are huge support for me---I'm the only writer in our besties group and they encourage me so much). Of course, we always laugh the majority of the time we're together, so I'd probably end up with a romantic comedy (which might not be a bad idea, LOL).
    I enjoyed this post (although the eerie lake gave me chills---eeek!) and look forward to seeing what great books are ahead for you!
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

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    1. It was easier to brainstorm the 'eerie lake' (not to be confused with Lake Erie!) while sitting on a boat in bright sunlight, half napping while we fished. Not much 'eerie' about it.

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    2. HAHA!! I didn't even think about Lake Erie, LOL - - good one, Mary!! :)

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  26. Hi, I'm slow getting going this morning.
    My third bad insomniac night in a row (exacerbated by having a cold)
    So the Nyquil I took at an unwise 2 a.m. is just wearing off.

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    1. I so relate. Fighting a terrible cold since last Thursday. Yesterday was the absolute worst. Today, so far, it feels like I've turned a corner.

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    2. sorry Myra. I wouldn't call mine terrible, just nagging. So you get the sympathy prize! :(

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  27. Fun reading about your family brainstorming fest, Mary! I'm like Tina--rarely brainstorm with anyone but myself. I do like playing with The Writer's Brainstorming Kit, though. Especially when starting a new book idea, it helps me think up new and different scenarios.

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    1. I've never heard of the Writer's Brainstorming Kit. Or wait, yes I have, I've just never used it. Is it something I could buy on Amazon?

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    2. You probably heard about it right here in Seekerville since I've blogged about it before. Yes, just checked. You can find it on Amazon. Be sure you get the version that comes with the deck of brainstorming cards.

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    3. I could hear Myra's voice when I was thinking 'where have I heard of that'.

      Thanks Myra. Deck of cards. CHECK

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  28. I love this where the hostess/host can respond directly to the commenter. This way I'm not scrolling way back (and often missing) the comment being responded to. Great post

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    1. Marianne, I love it too MOSTLY. I'm afraid I'll miss a comment...about one of my comments...that I want to comment on.
      A comment about a comment about a comment about a comment. (this might be one too few or one too many comments!)

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  29. Well there's nothing like brainstorming with you, Mary and not just 'cause it happens over lunch :) It's the best!!

    But I do brainstorm with my husband, usually while walking our dogs. It's great because he's very analytical (that cop mentality) and he shoots holes (no pun intended) in my plots, which makes me angry. I pout, grumble and then he talks me through to the other side of possibility. The physical exercise helps when I'm in the middle of a tantrum because he's totally blown away (seriously, no pun intended) my idea with REALITY. GRRRR.

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    1. Reality is a crazed annoying stumbling block!
      LOL
      I was thinking about you when I was writing this. We bat ideas around but we don't really plan to brainstorm. But then we talk plots and it is a style of brainstorming right????

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  30. This sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon! And you're so right. Non-writers have a completely different set of ideas to bring to the table.

    Of course, whenever my sons give me "helpful" ideas, they are usually a combination of HP Lovecraft and Star Trek. Not really Amish-story-friendly.

    But maybe it's time to slip a bit of Lovecraft suspense into an Amish story. You never know...

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    1. I think maybe Star Trek, the original, had an amish plot once. LOL Sort of Amish. There were definitely bonnets

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    2. Hmmm... maybe not Amish, but you could always slide those brainstorm ideas over to your friendly neighborhood Spec Fic writer ;)

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  31. I've brainstormed with a non-writer (my hubby) and I'm so glad I did. He asked questions I wouldn't have asked. Also he actually fleshed out the theme for my 2nd book. Oh, and he named it too. :) And great help to me!

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  32. Janetta, you are all encouraging me to do this more with My Cowboy.
    I think I've really missed a resource here.

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  33. Mary, my kids and hubby are great at brainstorming. We often brainstorm over lunch or when driving in the car. I love, love, love to brainstorm. The process is fun and energizes me. Usually our sessions end up with a new twist I hadn't thought of in my initial story line.

    BTW, my eldest is great with titles. Often we'll brainstorm titles over the phone. She came up with MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA, which is one of my favorite titles.

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    1. How many long car rides have I been on with My Cowboy. I am totally doing this!

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    2. The nice thing about car rides is that they're trapped! No heading to the barn or outside to plow a field. :)

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  34. Mary, I laughed so hard about the Scooby Doo comment!!

    I think this is a great idea. I have brainstormed with my sister a bit. She's not a writer but is a big reader. However, she really only reads mysteries, so it made it tough. Plus, the idea she did end up helping me brainstorm got rejected, so I got a little paranoid about asking her again. LOL

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    1. I get that, Missy. I've already gone on a bit of a twisted direction from their ideas. I hope they're okay with it. But whether they are or not, I'm doin' it.

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  35. My 12 year old granddaughter enjoys brainstorming. The grands are thrilled that their dog, Bear, has a part in my next release, Amish Refuge. :)


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    1. That's a fun idea. I've used most of my grandchildren's names in my books but usually not big time. Like heroines, and heroes. Hmmmm...

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  36. LOL, love this! I love the lake in Minnesota story. Sounds just like something my family would think up. :)

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  37. MARY, I love that your family brainstorming session was so productive that you're excited about the tweak! I'm sure a dedication will guarantee that help again. Or maybe all you need is the certainty of another fishing trip. Being out in a boat without the fish biting is probably the best time to hash out a book ever!

    I've brainstormed with my DH and he's helped with some details of a story already in progress. He usually ends with "Just make something up." Not as helpful as he thinks it is. LOL I will try this with our family sometime. Can I borrow your fishing boat? ;-)

    Janet

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  38. I love this Mary! I don't think I've ever intentionally sought out brainstorming ideas like this, but my husband occasionally says things like, "Meg, you should write a story about THIS..." and nine times out of ten it's actually a concept I already have in a file, but he brings a completely different and interesting spin to it that I haven't thought of before.

    He's also really good and noticing my big, gaping plot holes once I have an idea a bit more fleshed out and he'll ask all kinds of open-ended questions. Super helpful!

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    1. Also, he read my comment over my shoulder as I was typing and didn't finish the whole comment before he stomped off teasing about how he's not going to help any more because of that 9 out of 10 thing... haha

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  39. Hi Mary:

    Kerry Greenwood is also an expert at working backstory into the story in the natural flow of the narrative. I'd say she's the best I've seen so far.

    For example: I've seen about 10 of the tv shows and I got more backstory in five pages of her first novel than were in those 10 shows. Outstanding. I just wonder how many times she rewrote that first chapter!!!

    Vince

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  40. Mary, what a fun post! I have done a wee bit of brainstorming with non-writers. One of my closest friends is also my primary beta reader. She's helped me get out of some pickles I've written myself into. Also, I asked a few reader friends to beta read one of my MS's, and the feedback they gave was amazing. One reader saw things Ih hadn't noticed about a character, and she gave me a spot-on suggestion for fixing something I had been blind to.

    I agree with you. It's great to get different ideas from those with non-writer brains. Fun post!!

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    1. I love the idea of beta readers, jeanne, but I've never done it.
      I often cut things close enough there's just not much time for that.

      Hmmmm

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  41. I've got a brother who reads and doesn't write, and I've got a brother who kind of writes but doesn't read. I like to bounce ideas off of them sometimes, and end up getting some good ideas from them. My dad who also isn't a writer (as of yet- unless you count my brother who kind of writes- my sister and I are the only writers in our family though I have a nine year old brother who wants to start writing, the only problem is that his story idea is a complete copy of my book) he's the one I go to for the practical stuff like:

    "If you were on the Titanic but unable to get on one of the lifeboats how would you survive?" (he said he would make a boat out of an upside down table, and then lower it off of the ship via a pulley system because just dropping the table overboard it would submerge it- even for just a little while- and that would get you wet and you would die of hypothermia, then you would have to paddle away- perhaps using broken off legs of the table- so as to not be sucked underwater by the Titanic sinking)

    or

    "How would you survive if a tsunami was coming and you couldn't get to high ground?"

    or

    "What is your theory of what happened to Mohenjo Daro?" Though for this one all he gave me was a nonsense answer.

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    1. How great to have all those different people who enjoy doing this.

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  42. This was a fun post, Mary. I don't know that I have really brainstormed with non-writers. I guess anybody could come up with a good story idea. Would be interesting.

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    1. Sandy, I don't know if I've done it before, not when I had the idea set and we went from there.
      We've played at brainstorming brand new ideas, but then we've always got a GENRE problem.

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  43. Enjoyed this, Mary! I've definitely brainstormed with non-writers - kids and grandkids mostly. I was surprised at what interesting ideas the younger kids come up with. Of course, if we're not careful we might end up with a Scooby Doo episode, too :-)

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    1. Scooby can sneak up on you, Laura!!! Beware!

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  44. Loved your post, Mary - great ideas you and Ruthy have!! Readers had such a fun time book chatting during the speed chats with the authors at our CFRR retreat. Why not take your idea a step further and organize a reader's group to submit brainstorming ideas for authors. Most of us would probably work pretty cheap - a book to read, if you use our ideas, and a hunk of chocolate thrown our way to gnaw on while we work, LOL!! Actually, I'm only slightly jesting and think it's a great idea - so count me in if you decide to take me up on it.

    Please drop my name in for any giveaways - thank you so much!!

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  45. Great post, Mary! BTW, I enjoyed your Wild at Heart series!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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  46. Mary, thank you for the post. I don't know if it's brainstorming with my husband, but when I'm plotting and I need to pick a male brain to get a better perspective on the hero, I'll start asking him questions and then I'll divulge more and the whys start coming. Thanks for pointing out the value of brainstorming.

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  47. I brainstorm with my oldest daughter a lot. She isn't a reader so she is not influenced by genre or the last thing she read. It's always amazing!

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  48. My family can get into some hilarious what if conversations so this idea appeals to me. My friends and family members have been willing to help me work out specific details for my novel according to their expertise. But brain-storming a book idea sounds so fun. Thanks for sharing, Mary.

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  49. I would love to be in on a brainstorming session with you, Mary! It would be the highlight of my year! No one would say it would be boring! Such fun we would have!!!!1 :)

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  50. When I'm *really* stuck, I'll ask my DH for ideas. He usually comes up with something completely different, which is exactly what I'm looking for, or nudges me in that direction.

    But I've not thought about asking a bunch of non-writers to help as a group.

    I LIKE it! Thanks, Mary!

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