Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Brainstorming- good , bad, ugly?

Current Project:Spirit of the Sky
Status: First Draft finished!!
I like helping other people brainstorm. It's fun to see how they are building their characters, plots, and overall story.

I also have a couple people I brainstorm with when I'm coming up with a project or stuck on a project. Usually not the whole thing.

Many years ago I did story magic with some members of this RWA chapter with my spirit books, mostly book one. It would be interesting to hear from the members who have read it if it was what they thought it would be when I was story magicking it.

The reason I'm wondering this is my latest finished project I've been shopping to agents has had two thumbs up from everyone who's read it EXCEPT the person I brainstormed nearly the whole thing with. She read the first few chapters and said "It isn't what I thought it would be. I don't like your heroine and I did when we brainstormed."

Do you think when you brainstorm a project with another writer that they then sort of write it in their mind and when it is different in your story they have trouble wrapping their mind around your story? Have you had that happen to you with either something someone else helped you brainstorm or something you helped someone else with?


Sarah Raplee said...

Paty, I LOVE to brainstorm. It's one of my favorite activities!

If someone brainstormed with me and then made a remark like that when they read my book, I'd be offended. Inappropriate, much?

I stay detached from other people's stories when we're brainstorming together. Brainstorming is not writing. Helpers don't own the plot or the characters, or even the ideas.

I like to do 'lists of 20' possibilities and then let the story's author work from the list. For Ex.:
20 reasons the heroine is at a drug lord's wedding (goal/motivation)
20 ways a kid could redeem himself after setting fire to a house (plot)
20 things the hero might notice about the heroine (sexual tension)
20 reasons a Very Good Girl might try to kill someone (motivation & conflict).

I don't get emotionally invested in the story or the characters - even my own characters - at this point. The ideas thrown out are 'triggers', not decisions.

Triggers may spawn something better that was't even hinted at during the brainstorming session. Maybe the author will merge two ideas, or use an idea with a different character, or do the opposite of what was suggested. Fine with me! I'm busy with my own stories.:)

[Can you tell I have strong feelings about this?]

Genene Valleau said...

CONGRATULATIONS on finishing the first draft! That's a great feeling, isn't it?

To be honest, I don't remember the details of our brainstorming session for your first SPIRIT book. I just loved the concept and I loved the finished story.

Similar to Sarah's comments, I think brainstorming is giving people ideas. Where they take those ideas is their choice. And things tend to fall out of my head easily. After a brainstorming session, I don't usually remember the specifics of what we talked about.

My own stories change--sometimes dramatically--from how I first plot or brainstorm them. All sorts of interesting surprises and plot twists show up in the writing. That's part of the fun!

Paty Jager said...

Sarah, I like your list of 20! I may just borrow it.

Genene,I'm glad you liked the book and don't remember enough to tell me I did it different than you thought.

Sarah Raplee said...

Forgot to congratulate you on finishing your first draft! You go, Girl!