Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mastering the Art of Brainstorming

A story idea seed sprouted while I read a book. It was a-mazing!
Another poked it's first leaf through the soil while I watched a group of people.

Right place. Right time. I don't know what caused the idea to push through all the other thoughts jostling around in my mind, demanding my immediate attention. But it did. And I loved it.

A kernel of a story idea is golden and to be treasured. It alone, however, does not make a novel.

I would love to be an accomplished author who wakes one morning ready to start a new novel. I'd ask myself the first layer of questions: 

"Who will the main character be?" 
"What is his/her journey problem?"
"What or who will trip her/him up?"
"What is the setting/time and how will it effect the story?" 
"What is the ending?" 

My fingers would fly on the keyboard. As I watch the story unfold on the screen, I'd ask more questions to form a second layer then a third layer, ever deepening the story. My fingers tap out the words and in a month--poof--I have a new novel needing only a minimal edit.


I am not at this point.

I sit at my laptop and draw a blank. Kinda like Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse with his typewriter.

Recently I read Ted Dekker's acknowledgement for his book Eyes Wide Open. He states a friend helped him bounce the ideas back and forth. Because of the friend, the story plunged into the depths of a fantastic world. He clearly stated, without the friend helping him brainstorm, the story would not have turned out so well.

I need someone to help me brainstorm for deeper ideas, too. I've turned the process into a game-- a writer's ping pong game. Practically an entire story can be plotted in one entertaining session.

I've played this game in a coffee shop, in a beach condo, in a conference hotel, at a friend's home, etc. The places are endless, and the fun is memorable.

Here are the rules: 

Mastering the Art of Brainstorming- 
A Writer's Ping Pong Game

1. Requires at least two players, more are encouraged. One player is the intended writer of the story. Best if players face each other.

2. Need one kernel of a story idea.

3. Each player is allowed unlimited turns to share ideas, but must allow others to have a turn.

4. Interruptions, interjections, blurting, talking over are allowed

5. Changing of mind is allowed.

6. Leaping forward and bouncing back in the story is allowed.

7. Laughing, pondering, rephrasing encouraged.

8. Body movements to enhance current thought highly recommended. This will help the writer to recall the idea later on.

9. Silence is golden. (Great ideas are being manufactured in the player's minds)

10. Writer's satisfaction is a must. This is where voice comes into play. If a player suggest an idea, no matter how great, the writer must feel comfortable about it. As the game is played, the writer forms a sense of story, the characters, etc. and can determine if the idea will really work or should be stored for a future novel. The writer then needs to inform the players of any problems and open the door for new ideas.

11. This game is not limited to a complete novel. Applicable for short stories, scenes, beginnings, endings, character flaws, villains, blogs, etc.

This game is not a Milton Bradley product, can be played by all ages, and works best with snacks.

Who would like to play? 
Who knows they need to play but feels shy?

Wave your hand in the comment section. Maybe we could get a group to play on FB chat or meet in Skype. We could play right now. Give me a second to round up the Alley Cats-the best brainstormers I know.

Go ahead. Fire your idea-tell us where you are stuck.
Go ahead. Request a partner to play in another social media.

The world is open to new and great ideas. Some of them are hiding with fairies or the little people. Some are in the treasure vaults of princes. Let's play Hide and Seek and find those buggers.

Photo Courtesy for top photo: by rahki-photo modified for this use.

If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes young adult mystery/adventure Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

What a fun post, Mary!

P.S. Loving your "pin" pics - rockin it! ;)

Casey said...

I miss brainstorming in person with my sisters! Love the pictures. ♥

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great post, Mary! I haven't had many opportunities to get together with groups of people, but I've found that when I'm stuck if I can talk with one or two people, it does help me get unstuck. :)

I think it would be a blast to be part of a crazy-brainstorming session with a bunch of writers. l think that would be uber-fun. :) You're a blessed woman, and a blessed group!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks, Karen! I had a lot of fun writing it. I--brainstrormed--ideas :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I miss the group, too. Case. I need someone to work this new book through. I see the potential, but want ideas to spark new thoughts.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Good morning, Jeanne.
I wonder if some of our local ACFW groups could do this. You have such a great group of writers out there in Colorado.

The Montana group is so spread out. They set up Saturday coffee sessions in coffee shops in various places throughout the state. Then, they share with each other what happened on the group email.

I think we have these struggles because God created us to be with each other. The need causes us to seek others for ideas.

I feel really blessed, Jeanne. Blessed because I have good friends like you.

Sandra Stiles said...

I enjoyed the post. My husband is the person I bounce ideas off of. If I am stuck we will sit in our yard swing with a cup of coffee and we will talk it out back and forth until the ideas are clear. Funny because you always hear that writing is a solitary activity. It truly isn't.

Mary Vee Writer said...

No it isn't Sandra.
I'll bet your hubby enjoys this swingin' chats, and maybe is a bit curious to see how many of his ideas sneak into your novel :)