I am in plotty/brainstorming territory as this week draws to an end. I’ve been keeping up with my daily chunk on the YA WIP, but I’ve also been doing some plotting on a Mirus novella (it does seem to be shaping up to be a novella rather than a short story–I’m so BAD at keeping things really short). It’s some of the backstory to DOOM, and I managed to plot my way through the midpoint, after which I got stuck with no clue what happens in the second half of the story. I mean I knew there was a rescue involved, and I had a crapload of questions I knew needed answering, but no clues as to the nature of those answers.
I was chatting last night with pal Andrew Mocete, excited over my progress, and I mentioned my conundrum, sketching out the basic lines of the plot and the questions I needed answering. So he ripped out four or five possibilities. I’ll admit it. My gut instinct was to discount all of them, not because Andrew isn’t awesome (because he is), but because at first glance, my brain said “Oh, no, that won’t work because of x, y, z.” I have this tendency to avoid brainstorming much with folks other than Susan because no one else knows my world as well as she does (since she’s been around from the beginning). But it was close to bed and I was grateful he spent the time, so I was a good girl and said thanks and that I’d ponder and sleep on it. And then I woke up this morning with the answer, which was a spinoff of his most outrageous suggestion! Genius! And I don’t think it would’ve happened if I hadn’t consciously taken myself out of that negative headspace and given time for the ideas to percolate.
In a similar vein, yesterday I was doing some brainstorming with Mhairi Simpson on her latest WIP. She was stuck as well, and I was using my reflective listening skills (look at me finding outside uses for my therapist training!) to kind of rephrase what she said she needed, couching it in terms of story structure and the missions of assorted plot points, as well as some important points about character arc. And something I said jogged her brain such that she figured out the last quarter of the book and can now figure out what she needs to seed for the middle.
I realize this is kind of rambly and tangential (which is unsurprising considering I totally fell back asleep on the sofa when I was supposed to do my workout this morning and my brain feels like something akin to reheated oatmeal–SO SLEEPY), but my POINT is, I think, that you shouldn’t avoid brainstorming with people who don’t know every little detail about your WIP or world. Sure some of what they say won’t work because of those reasons, but you NEVER KNOW when something will fire up your brain (even after the fact) to send you sprinting along beyond whatever had you stuck in the first place. Consider the possibility that the Universe is putting that person willing to brainstorm in your path for a REASON and take the time to listen.