Today the Birdies are pleased to welcome author Lynn Crain to the blog. Lynn’s release, Harvester, is available now! Lynn’s going to talk about something that can be the bane of an author’s existence: brainstorming. Welcome, Lynn!
The Art of Brainstorming
In 1953, the word brainstorming was coined. While I couldn’t find any notes regarding where, how or why the word was generated, it was enough to get it into Webster’s Dictionary of the time. Webster’s definition is; a group problem-solving technique that involves spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of the group. It goes on further to add this: the mulling over of ideas by one or more individuals in an attempt to devise or find a solution to a problem. Just the definition tells me a group of scientists used this in the 1950s to do all those things in the places we can’t talk about.
Not one mention of the term creative is used in any of the definitions found but believe me, it is a technique used by writers far and wide. Although, I like the more relaxed, informal approach and have been in many brainstorming sessions. It is one of the things I miss most about my writing and critique group as I could always kick around ideas with them thus filling plot holes and solving many problems in a work-in-progress.
There are some things that a group or individual can do when starting a brainstorming session. Here are the ones I frequently use:
1. Just Write – Sometimes the creative juices won’t flow because you’re thinking too much about the problems and not enough about the solutions. Set yourself a time limit and just write about anything. Use prompts if needed but don’t censor yourself in any manner.
2. Do A List – When first starting a story, I will write out a list of generalities about the story. Things like how many chapters, who the characters are, how many words and items like that. I then take that list and start fleshing the items out. For example, I know I want ten chapters…I will ask myself how many story points do I need to happen in those chapters…or how long do I want them to be. Say I want to do five things in those chapters and each of them to be 1500 words. That means I have roughly 300 words to answer each point. I can further refine this list to where all I need to do is create the book as I will have it all worked out from taking the time to brainstorm before I ever sit down in front of my computer.
3. Look at something from a different perspective – This is one of the hardest things a writer can do and it’s easier done in a group. Why? Because the other writers WILL have a different perspective already and can tell you how they think immediately. When alone, try writing a scene from multiple character viewpoints. None of them will be the same. My training is in science and many times I have to turn off the logical mind to start thinking about how someone else really sees the world and how they feel about what just happened. I only see things from my perspective and I will never see them from the perspective of say a woman with an arranged marriage. However, I can imagine those things and maybe with enough research can at least make it seem realistic. Writing from different viewpoints will help me hone those skills.
4. Think outside the box – Again, my background in science can stymie me here because there are set ways of doing things. Like experiments. However, if I truly want to get inside the mind of my villain I have to know he or she won’t do things in a set manner but in a way that produces the fastest results because they want a different outcome. Thinking outside of the box can put an author in the mind of a madman therefore write him or her very realistically.
5. Play the What-If game – Whenever I get with my writer friends for a brainstorming session part of the time will be spent doing all the what ifs that can happen to my characters. It’s during these sessions that I often have what I call my strokes of genius and toss my characters into something they’ve never imagined. Or rather, they tossed me. Usually this is done with a series of questions: What if the heroine gets lost going to her next job? What if her car breaks down? What if she hates the hero at first sight? What if? What if? What if? All of those questions need to be answered if even if they don’t necessarily fit the plot line. Why? Because you, as an author, will see all the angles and know what will or won’t work for the story.
6. Use pictures or photos – You’ve found a picture you love of a couple and you just know there’s a story that goes with it but all you have is the photo. Alone or with your group, you can use any of the five listed items and generate a story based upon your brainstorming session along with that photo. I’ve used this technique many times because I’ll fall in love with a photo. My current WIP came about because I was searching for premade covers for some of my soon-to-be self-published stories. I took one look at the cover and knew the title of the story. From there I did chapter list, came up with the characters and started writing from my brainstorming pages. My novel, Where’s My Underwear Anyway?, came about because I saw this adorable photo of legs, underwear around a set of slim ankles and a short dress that matched. Hmm – I thought, just what could I do with that photo? The story took me a while to write because it started as a short then the characters said, nope, there was more. After 100K, I can honestly say a photo inspired it.
There are the techniques I routinely use when I brainstorm alone or with a group. Brainstorming is one of the most fun and creative things I’ve ever done as a writer and I try to include a least an hour or two during my writing time weekly just to let the creativeness flow from my fingers and mind. Many times, I find it’s a story worth writing.
Word Count: approximately 42,000 words
Logline: Sky Nerezsh, a Harvester of men, leaves home avoiding a tragic path when a rival comes to claim Earth and the two Scottish lifemates she’s just discovered.
Blurb: Princess Sky Xera Nerezsh came to earth to avoid the normal succession path to the throne. Being the oldest daughter, she will be required to murder her mother in order to secure her path to power. Sky loves her mother and refuses this path, choosing instead to disappear in the vast reaches of space. When her past collides with her present, she has to think quick on her feet, claim two men and a whole planet just to avoid the inevitable: a meeting with her mother. Along the way, she discovers true love and a burning need to be there for them always. Now if the other Harvesters can just keep to themselves, they’ll have no problems. But who said true love was ever easy.
Suddenly one dark haired man was on the table in front of her, gyrating his sexy hips in her face, his package mere inches from her mouth. In another life, she would have leaned forward and planted her lips on his crotch, willing his body to perform. She really should have been paying more attention to the situation around her instead of wondering about where Angela had gotten herself.
Leaning down, his breath reminded her of the sweetgrass that grew on her home planet of Tyrsati, heightening her senses even more. “Sweetheart, I see how you want me…it’s written all over your face.” His voice purred in her ear.
Sky gasped and pulled back to get a better look at the man in front of her. He reminded her of the gods of Vada. He was tall, well-muscled, dark hair brushing the top of his shoulders and had the most incredible violet eyes she had ever seen. Guess the optics weren’t wrong. He would fetch an exquisite price on Texra and her mother would be extremely proud for her acquisition. She shook her head to clear the cobwebs.
“Nice eyes, sweetie – hang around after the show – I’ll make it worth your while.” His voice hit a resonance with her and her whole body flushed. It had been years since she had reacted to any man. Now her emotions and body betrayed her for an insignificant being on an outer planet. She shook her head. This planet was no more insignificant than any other, including her own but she knew if she didn’t get herself under control, the Harvester in her would take over. Old habits die hard.
“Don’t let his demeanor fool you, luvey. He just wants to get into your pants.” Another deep voice reverberated close to her ear.
She glanced over her shoulder and again her breath was nearly taken away as she looked into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen in the galaxy bar none. The sky of Octa couldn’t hold a candle to the color that swirled in their depths.
“Ooo, Jaxon is right about the eyes. Very cool green.”
“Contacts,” Sky managed to get out for the second time this evening, her voice low.
“And a sexy voice to boot. Very nice.” He twirled away to join his companion on stage. He was just as nice looking as the first guy but just a little shorter. His shiny hair swung around his jaw line as he moved and her hands ached to run her fingers through it and over his body.
She sat there stunned as the people at her table laughed and clapped her on the back as if she’d done some sort of fantastic feat. While her time on this planet had been very thrilling, in her old life working for her mother, their performances had to be impeccable or their fate might be worse than death. She vaguely wondered just how she’d rate them.
Sky did her best to smile and act as if what happened was one of the most exciting things in her life when in reality it brought back some memories she’d rather forget. Folding her hands in front of her, she closed her eyes and steadied her breathing. She opened her eyes slow and caught a glimpse of a targeting laser. The light was in a part of the spectrum that no one of this planet could even see but her optics caught it.
Scanning the crowd, she allowed her eyes to whirl, not caring who saw. There were not supposed to be any Harvesters on this world as it had been declared too primitive to even be included in the Alliance of Planets. She came here because she knew this was the one place her mother wouldn’t think to look. Now, she knew another Tyrsatian walked the same world as she did, occupying the very same room.
Maybe it was time to see just what type of trouble Angela got herself into. Leaning across the table, she quickly gave Jayne her phone number and said her goodbyes to all the others present. Rising slowly, she didn’t want to alert the other Harvester but she was just far enough away and at a weird angle to not see who it might be. Moving quickly to the back wall, she moved to where she stood way behind the woman but close enough to see who it was.
Jesata Ardik. Of all the Harvesters to show up on her new home planet, one of the most relentless in the business had to land on her new home. This wasn’t going to be easy. She had to delay her from marking them because once they were marked, it didn’t matter wherever in the universe they were, they would be considered fugitives until captured and sold to the highest bidder. Meaning, she wouldn’t be able to get them off world without the help of her mother.
Smashwords ~ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/171101
Lynn Crain has penned over 25 novels in romance in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and contemporary romance, erotic to tame in nature. She always knew that writing was her calling even if it took years at other professions to prove it. She has belonged to EPIC and RWA for more years that she cares to think about. Currently, she lives in Europe while her husband of nearly 30 years pursues his dream of working internationally. Her state-side home is in Nevada where family and friends wait patiently for their return. You can find her hanging out at A Writer In Vienna Blog (www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com) and various other places on the net (www.theloglineblog.blogspot.com; www.twitter.com/oddlynn3 ; www.lynncrain.blogspot.com ; www.facebook.com/oddlynn3 ) as well as her website www.lynncrain.com. Still, the thing she loves most of all is hearing from her readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This is an erotic menagé novel with EXPLICIT language and adult situations. (Ed note: You’ll fit here at Dirty Birdies very nicely then!)