Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Diary of a Mad Brainstormer

Each time I post something about my brainstorming group, I get questions. What do we do? And how do we do it?

To help answer those questions, I’ve written up a diary of my last week’s brainstorming session.

Saturday–thanks to mechanical troubles and a mid-air medical crisis, one of our brainstormers is 7 hours late arriving in Cleveland. But once we’re all together, we’re rarin’ to go. It’s raining, so while it would be great to sit on a patio somewhere, we head to a Middle Eastern restaurant to eat hummus and catch up on news, both personal and professional.

Sunday–more rain, but it hardly matters. We settle in at the Hampton Suites and get to work. Today, two brainstormers have sessions. One is plotting the second book in a loosely connected series. Lots of political intrigued and an international crisis or two. This author is definitely working on a bigger stage than the one I’m used to! In the afternoon, we worked on a traditional mystery. On the surface, reading the author’s notes, it looks like a slam dunk. But on closer examination, we find time line problems, and motivation that needs shoring up. We’re too tired to do tarot today so we promise ourselves we’ll catch up with two readings another night. In the evening, back to the Middle Eastern restaurant we all loved.

Monday–our sessions are conducted to the patter of raindrops. In the morning, we work on an inspirational romantic suspense. We do not worry about the characters’ faith journeys. That’s a problem this author will tackle alone. Instead, we concentrate on plot. She’s come up with a story that’s simple and powerful. It’s fun to add the twists and turns that will make it a page-turner. In the afternoon, we discuss my Pepper Martin mystery #9 which I’ll need to start writing soon. Did you know Superman was invented in Cleveland? Somehow, the fact comes up in conversation and we take off running with it. Plenty of laughter in this session. I hope that means there will be that much fun and energy in the book. We start our tarot readings and as always, they are interesting and insightful. There is talk about another night of Middle Eastern, but I nix that and we decide, instead, on a seafood restaurant. I love fish, but order chicken. Go figure.

Tuesday–more rain, but we hardly notice. We don’t have time. A women’s fiction writer is up first, and she has a complicated plot underway and is unsure if she’s attacking it the right way. We think she is and she’s reassured, and we discuss ways she can handle the story. In the afternoon, we’re back to our first brainstormer, the one writing the international thriller. I’ve had a revelation and I announce it: we need to think of this book as a James Bond movie. Once we have that idea in place, the plot bounces along. Two tarot readings tonight, and we’re finally caught up. Dinner: an Italian restaurant where they serve me enough penne pasta for an army. The nice thing about brainstorming in town is that I come home every night. My husband appreciated the doggie bag!

Wednesday–I’m up again, and I’ve got an idea for a new mystery series. So much to figure out before we can even begin to talk plot! Who are the characters, what are they up to, and why are they involved in murder? I come with an already determined setting and they love that. Now all we have to do is create the world that will exist there. My time flies by, and when it’s over, I’ve got the bare bones of an idea. Still plenty of hammering out to take care of, but things are falling together. This afternoon, we’re back with the inspirational romantic suspense writer and a different idea than the one she brought up in her first session. It’s another winner, full of Southern atmosphere and suspense. Can’t wait to read the finished product! Tarot reading for my new idea. Not sure I like where that reading was headed, which was darker than I’d anticipated the book to be, but I will re-examine it and see what I can keep from the reading. Dinner? Is it time for dinner again? We try for a restaurant in my little town, but it’s crowded and noisy, so we head back toward the hotel and find an Irish pub. A quiet Irish pub? Tonight it is, and we use the time to keep talking. And talking.

Thursday–it can’t possibly be our last brainstorming day! And it can’t possibly be still raining. We finish up with the women’s fiction writer and the traditional mystery writer. Another tarot reading. And dinner, of course, this time at a chain restaurant that is less than stellar.

No matter. Food or no food, rain or sunshine, brainstorming is always exhausting, invigorating and challenging. I cherish my brainstorming group. I’m lucky to have their collective experience and wisdom. Now all I have to do is sit down and write those books!


Sharon said...

That sounds like such a cool way to spend a few days! I am still not clear on whether or not it rained ;)

Dark? for Pepper? Be nice to my girl .

Casey said...

It rained. And rained. And rained. As for Pepper...I'll be nice. I swear! But there has to be trouble or there will be nothing for her to do!

Angie Fox said...

That is really neat how you do that I actually went to my first brainstorming getaway this past winter, but we weren't nearly so organized. Next time, I'll email you for some tips!

Casey said...

Yeah, organization is the key to making the brainstorming time work to best advantage. We double tape all sessions, have rules about what can/can't be discussed during bs time, etc. It works for us!