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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Value of A Story Brainstorming Partner

Writing a novel is hard work. At least for me, I find the task so complex that writing a 300-400 page manuscript gives me many ways in which to hang myself. It's like traveling through a maze - spending lots of time banging your nose on dead-end walls and having to re-trace your steps and try another route. But sometimes I hit my nose too hard on a dead end wall and can't seem to move.

That's why having a brainstorming partner is so crucial. I think most authors probably have a critique group, or a few close friends who go over their manuscript for them at different points in the process. But do you have someone to brainstorm with?

What I have found in my life is that the best brainstorming partner is someone you have a close relationship with - someone who knows you well, not just as an acquaintance. I believe in order for someone to brainstorm with you, they have to be deeply interested in you and how much your writing means to you. That deep interest in you and your pursuits is what gives them the impetus to brainstorm seriously with you on your project.

Take last night for instance. I went out to dinner with a dear friend of mine. We both have our favorite topics of discussion. And in my case, I can't recall a time we've gone out to dinner that writing HASN'T come up on my docket of things to discuss.

In this case, I was discussing trouble I was having writing a particular part of my story - I'd been experimenting writing from different POV's, but hadn't quite nailed it yet. As the discussion went on, she asked some questions then piped up with a suggestion I hadn't thought of - one that seemed more lucrative then what I'd been thinking because I'd zeroed in on doing the scene in a certain way and just could not see beyond that one view of it that I had.

So now thanks to one brief brainstorming session I had, I have a new direction to try.

Do you have a brainstorming partner to help you over the dead end walls in your story? If not, try it. I think you might be surprised at how rewarding the results are. And you will have the pleasure of returning the favor at some point down the road.

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