Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Storming my Brain!

Back from a week of brainstorming in Sarasota and once again, I’m reminded of how important and energizing the brainstorm experience can be.

There’s nothing like sitting around with four trusted author friends and tossing around ideas. This past week, I had the opportunity to put my little gray cells to work on women’s fiction, a thriller, a domestic cozy mystery, and inspirational romantic suspense as well as my own paranormal books. It’s a great way to get my brain moving and stretch my imagination and no matter the genre, brainstorming other peoples’ ideas helps me to learn story structure, drama, conflict and the oh-so-important ins and outs of characterization.

Yes, it can sometimes be frustrating. Like the time an hour-and-a-half session was just ending when we hit upon that One Special Thing that would make a fellow author’s book click. Or the time we couldn’t work out a story problem at all. In fact, that was so discouraging, the author finally decided that her story was completely unworkable–that is, until yesterday, when all of us in the brainstorming group got an email that announced she’d come up with the answer. Of course, it was always there. Right in front of our eyes. But we were too focused on the minutia of plotting to see it.

That, too, is a lesson to be learned.

In addition to our traditional brainstorming sessions, we also spent some time each evening doing tarot readings for our characters. This is my favorite part of brainstorming! Writers are so wonderfully intuitive and so incredibly creative. Give the same tarot card to any one of them and you’ll get five different readings, each valid and filled with insight. It is truly a collaborative and awe-inspiring experience. And we did a lot of laughing, too.

In fact, the only complaint I have about brainstorming is that I have to wait another year to meet with my group again.

How about you other writers out there? Do you have a trusted group where you can bounce your thoughts and explore ideas, no matter how goofy they may seem?

I, for one, am grateful that I do!


Anne Elizabeth Baldwin said...

I'm not published yet, but my father and a couple of online friends are good for brainstorming about stories with. {Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Casey said...

It is good to have trusted brainstormers, Anne. And one thing I've found . . . sometimes even good friends are bad, bad brainstormers. For whatever reason, our thoughts just don't click. That's why I'm so grateful to my Sarasota group. Plenty of clicking there!

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin said...

I know what you mean about not everyone being good at brainstorming. Out of quite a few friends and family members, only four to six are good to go to when I need to brainstorm about something. Of those, two don't do writing. They're amazing with real-life problems, but ask them about writing, and they only comment on grammar and spelling. So when I have story trouble, I only have two who are really good at hashing things out. I also have two more friends who are game to take a look, and pretty good spotting trouble, but not as good at finding solutions. Fortunately, sometimes that's enough. {lop-sided smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin