Brainstorming is one of the fun parts in the development of a book. The key for the author is a willingness to hear other ideas. The second, and most critical key, is discovering those with whom you should brainstorm. Those people need to be willing to have their ideas rejected in the discussions and be willing to let an idea they created to be used by someone else. It takes a special person…many times a professional…to achieve that.
I’ve heard complaints from some authors who try this in a critique group only to be frustrated. Egos get in the way or the ideas generated are singularly unhelpful. Or the discussion doesn’t move the project forward, instead it gets sidetracked by numerous differing opinions on the direction of the piece.
That is not to say that critique groups are bad. Hardly. Only that some authors have experienced frustration if the mix in their group is not helpful (see the below cartoon).
A few years ago, at a writers conference, a well known author gathered a number of published writers together and declared, “I have a new book contract and need a better plot than what I have, can you guys help?” Over the next couple hours that group created a dynamite storyline (which is now in print!). That is brainstorming with a group at its best.
If you have a good relationship with your editor they can be a great sounding board for ideas (but be considerate of that editor’s time). A good agent can also provide this service. I have been a part of this process with nearly every book project I have ever worked on. While sometimes the two heads can bump into each other…painfully…the ensuing friction usually creates a spark…the spark of creativity and not contention.
Where do you go for your brainstorming sessions?
Enjoy the following “Pearls Before Swine” cartoon from last weekend: