Search This Blog

November 8, 2012

Plotting Princess Kat Baldwin has thoughts about Brainstorming 101

Brainstorming 101

Hiya! I’m a Pantser (a writer who plots by the seat of her pants). So what am I doing hanging out with Plotting Princesses?  I’m here because they’re my friends and this is a fabulous group of women, but also because I love to brainstorm with other writers. It’s fun! I love brainstorming other authors’ plots.

So, let’s talk about brainstorming. Please excuse me if my psyche background comes burbling out, but this is a really exciting topic for me. Let’s look at the brain.

Everyone knows about right brain and left brain functions.

But there’s much more to it than simply accessing your right-brain. This simplistic view fails to explain true genius or creativity. Here’s how it really happens. Suppose a wild idea pops into your mind, it takes analytical brain functions to apply it to anything useful.

Now the really exciting stuff happens.  By attempting to apply the idea you will stimulate more ideas. This is why it is so important in a brainstorming session to throw ideas out, attempt to see how they might apply, and then dash on to the new idea the act of application stimulates. Creativity combined with reasoned application begets more creativity.  They breed like guppies. In a group brainstorming session this can be especially productive.

5 Hints for successful brainstorming…

1.)    Remember our first few ideas are usually cerebral flotsam, trash ideas, been-there-seen-that concepts floating around the top of our brain. These are ideas the subconscious has gleaned from TV or popular culture. The really good stuff is deeper down.
2.)    Stay confident. You can do this. Digging for the good stuff is fun!
3.)    Try not to get married to an idea or it will block the really creative jazz that percolates beneath the surface.
4.)    Fling out lots of what-ifs. The wilder the better. Go ahead let yourself wander into absurd land or outlandish-ville. Loosen up and start flinging. If you’re brainstorming in a group rebound off each other. She says what if a Viking stumbles through a wormhole into the future, and you bounce off that idea saying, “A wormhole into current day Hollywood.” Someone else suggests, “Yeah, but it’s a movie set for a Viking movie.”  Someone else says, “What if it’s a Western.” That’s different. Another writer might suggest, “What if it’s an Amish film set?” You never know what might stick to the wall.
5.)    As a brainstormer don’t try to pin another author down or try to cram an idea down her creative gullet. Her creative id will pick and choose.

Kat Baldwin doesn't know that she isn't all alone in the pantsing department. She hopes to release Lady Fiasco from her backlist soon!  


Sylvia said...

Hi Kat,
Very interesting stuff about brainstorming. When I start to plot a book I always feel blank. I have the idea, but I don't know what happens. I find it's always better to plot with a group of people than to go it alone. Better ideas come with a group focus. You should do a workshop at DARA on this.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Good morning Sylvia!
Thanks for dropping by! That's cool that group brainstorming is helpful for you. I think it is so much fun to see when ideas really get flying.

Kathy Ivan said...


Brainstorming is one the things I love about the Plotting Princesses. When we get together we throw ideas out with other authors to help get them motivated about writing THEIR stories--but with a little help from their friends.

We've come up with some of the best, funniest, and wildest plot lines imaginable. Maybe we'll write them someday.

Very intersting take on brainstorming, thinking all about right brain and left brain, and everything in between. Thanks for being a fellow princess. :-)

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Kathy!

The Princesses rock! Thank you for all the work you and Vicki do for us. Such a fun group.

I can't wait to be a part of one of your next brainstorming session. I love it when one idea triggers another idea and then another...

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Kat: I love helping others with their work thru brainstorming. Sylvia is right about the workshop. LOL

Great topic.

Elizabeth Essex said...

Kat, thanks so much for this post. I've always wondered how I get so much more jazzed up and working at out PP at out PP brainstorming sessions, and now I know!

Brainstorming is one of my favorite things to do, and something Iike to do in my car as well, especially on long road trips with my daughter, who has become my sounding board and secretary. Whenever we hit upon a good idea, I can just say, "Quick, write that down!"

Cheers, and thanks again for a fun post.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

HI Vicki!
Thanks for getting my little diagrams on board today. You do so much for the Princesses, I really appreciate it.

I include a little bit about brainstorming in my Secret Life of Pantsers workshop. Maybe I could add this to it.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Lizzie girl! i can just picture you brainstorming with your daughter. What a good way to relate. And teenagers allow so much more free association.

I really enjoy all the surprising moments in your books. Your brainstorming pays off!!!!

Liese said...

Great blog and a great group of brainstormers! I remember Christy Craig telling about how when she critiqued a friend's work, she added a paragraph at the end of the first chapter about a naked man running in front of the heroine (I think he was being chased). When asked about who the man was and what he was doing, Christy's reponse was "I don't know. That's your problem." The man became a recurring character throughout the rest of the book.

Putting more than one mind on a problem can really create a lot more ideas!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Liese!
Funny story. Chisty Craig is such a hoot. I can see her doing that.

Love that you said, "Putting more than one mind on a problem can really create a lot more ideas!"

So true.

Patricia said...

I love the "what if?" I never use that and yet I know it's a great tool.
Thank you for the tip.

Kathleen Baldwin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Patricia!
Yeah, gotta love the "what if" game. It's how Stephen King begins his writing process - according to his book, On Writing.

Thanks for dropping by.

Sheila Seabrook said...

Wonderful tips, Kathleen. I would love to have a group of writers in my neighbourhood to brainstorm with. Usually, I bug my sisters or sister-in-law who are always more than willing to supply me with fresh ideas :)

C. Fowkes said...

Kat, thanks for this great post. As a former psych nurse and pantser, I loved her pictures of the brain. And I totally agree with brainstorming and thinking about "what if". I enjoyed this article almost as much as I enjoyed Lady Fiasco. If that wonderful book was the result of brainstorming, I'm totally for it!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Sheila and Carole!
Thanks for coming by. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I'm always fascinated by how our marvelous brains work.

Have a good evening.

Liz Lipperman said...

Loved this blog, Kat. It's usually me needing the plotting help at the Princess Retreats. I am such a plotter that I have to have it all down on paper before I start. I usually come up with the main plot and the wonderful PPs fill in the subplots. And boy are they good at it!!