Paula has a fantastic brainstorming partner!
You'd think I'd be able to find someone, somewhere, or something beginning with B in at least one of my novels, wouldn't you? But no, nothing, apart from a couple of very
So, instead, I’ll look at the value of brainstorming.
I’ve brainstormed on my own –
turned ideas, scenes, and conversations over and over in my mind. Who said
writing was easy? Sometimes my brain hurts as I try to work things out!
There’s also online brainstorming
– an email discussion with a friend or critique partner, or sometimes a
question asked on Facebook. I’ve done plenty of this, with some great
suggestions, and also some fun (and very useful) discussions.
However, with no disrespect
to my online friends, I have to say a real life brainstorming partner is
definitely a writer’s best friend! Back in the 1970s, when I was writing my 4th
novel, I had a friend who was a very good ‘sounding board’ but by the time I
started writing again about 6 years ago, she had moved away and we lost
I ‘found’ Margaret, my
current brainstorming partner, totally by chance. We've been friends for several years, and she'd read 4 or 5 of my novels. One day she said she had an idea
for a story for me, and we met for lunch, and spent a couple of hours discussing
this story. In the end, it proved unworkable as it involved too many
coincidences, but a couple of the scenes did eventually find their way into
what became my ‘Irish Intrigue’ novel. We continued to meet up for lunch as I
wrote this novel, and I soon found she was not only listening as I told her ‘the
story so far’ but was asking the right kind of questions. She also contributed
her own ideas – some I took onboard immediately, while others helped me to
develop or clarify my own ideas. At one point, I was unsure what event was going to
cause a huge problem between the hero and hero. I made one suggestion, and my
friend added just four words (“or with the children”) which provoked a rather
loud ‘Yesss!’ from me that made everyone else look across the pub restaurant at us. I knew immediately that she had hit on something I hadn't even thought about until then.
Obviously, she had a kind of
vested interest in that story since her ideas had provided the initial spark for
me, so when I started writing my new story, I asked her if she still wanted to
meet up to discuss it. She immediately produced her diary, and said, “What
Since then we’ve met up every
3 or 4 weeks, and I always look forward to our lunches, because I end up with a
much clearer idea of where I’m going with the story. Last Monday our ‘lunch’
stretched to four hours, but I do wonder what anyone who overhears our
conversations actually makes of them – especially when we’re discussing where
stolen goods can be hidden!
So many thanks to Margaret, my fantastic brainstorming partner!