Girls Write Out
Tuesday, October 09, 2012

DSCF0039 retouchedgot to know Michelle Lim at a writer’s retreat in Duluth this past summer. She is an awesome brainstormer and has written Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel. She’s giving away a copy of her amazing book. Comment on the blog, and we will pick the winner!

1.Michelle, you recently helped me brainstorm Silent Night, my new Rock Harbor digital novella coming at the end of next month. Your brainstorming prowess amazed me! How did you learn to brainstorm so well?

First, Colleen thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to brainstorm with you and be a guest on your blog. It is a real treat to brainstorm with the author of some of my favorite books Abomination and the Rock Harbor Series.

The first part of my journey started with the love of stories. My grandmother belonged to several book clubs when I was a young girl and she let us borrow books to our hearts content.

My sister and I had summer reading contests topping over a hundred chapter books from the time we were preteens. Nothing ever can replace the number of stories your mind has encountered.

Then my mom and I brainstormed from the time I began writing. She is absolutely an amazing brainstormer and I learned a ton from her as well.

2.What are the 4 most important steps to brainstorming?

*Don’t censor your ideas. This is probably one of the most difficult things for some writers, but it is vital. It is a bit like fast drafting. You don’t stop to decide which ideas belong, but just let them flow. No matter how crazy they might seem.

*Blurt in a continuous stream. Think of it as playing Pictionary or other blurting type games. Just keep talking.

*Don’t stop too early. You may come up with a great idea, but there may be an even better one. Keep blurting beyond your first great idea.

*Brainstorm in small chunks. Pick one thing to brainstorm about whether a scene, a character, a location, etc. This will help you avoid being overwhelmed.

3.In your experience, how many people are needed for an effective brainstorming session?
Two individuals with a strong sense of story can be enough for an effective brainstorm session, but three to six is probably the optimum range. I wouldn’t go with more than eight or it will just get overwhelming.

4.I loved your fringe plot. Please explain what that is to our readers.

Thanks, Colleen. Fringe plotting is one of my favorite strategies. Fringe plot conflict is simply something that comes from the edges or outside of the story that is unexpected but believable.

Twists are often found in this strategy. It is the moment when a tornado is directly in the path of your crime scene. Believable if you live in tornado alley and that just increases the time conflict.

5.Loved your chapter on secrets. What’s the most important thing to remember about brainstorming them? 

As you are brainstorming secrets blurt like anything else, but when selecting what to use in your story analyze its impact. In order for the secret to matter enough to change a character’s behavior in an unpredictable way, the secret must embarrass them or cause them serious harm if revealed.

6.What is your favorite type of villain?

I haven’t met a villain that I don’t love to write. I suppose that is slightly crazy, but it is true. Unraveling the villain and how they became a villain is something I enjoy.

If I had to pick a favorite, I would probably choose the revenge villain or the dark & twisted villain. These villains allow for a lot of mood setting scenes, spiritual truth parallels, and the slow unraveling of how they became who they are today.

7.How do you create a cliffhanger?

To writing a cliffhanger there are three easy steps:

*Identify the problem the POV character has going forward in the story.
*Stop before the problem is solved.
*Add a line to give it punch.

In Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel I give lots of examples of this strategy and exercises to work on cliffhangers in your own novel.

I loved your book, Michelle! Thanks so much for coming by to visit!
It’s my pleasure, Colleen. I can’t wait to read your new Rock Harbor Novella, Silent Night!

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:00 AM  
  Comments (21)
Delicious Delicious
At 12:13 PM, Blogger Julie Jarnagin said...

These are excellent tips. The book sounds great!

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I would love to get this book. I think it eould definitely help me in my writing.


At 12:33 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I should have done spell check before I clicked publish. ;)

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Tonya said...

This is so exciting! I found your blog, Michelle, a couple of weeks ago & subscribed immediately :) I would love to have your book as well

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Cindy Q said...

Would LOVE to win this book!!

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Judythe Morgan said...

Great interview, Michelle. I've already picked up a great tip on how to improve my cliffhangers. I tend to overwrite the endings of scenes and chapters. Now I know to introduce the problem not over a solution! Thanks, ladies.

I would love to add a copy of your book Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel to my writer's resource shelf. I can really, really use it!

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Joanna Stricker said...

This is a fascinating topic. Sounds like a useful tool, and I can't wait to try it just as soon as I find some friends/familly who are also willing to put their stories out there: brainstormin'. In the meantime, I plan to try it on my own today as I work on setting up a writing project. Thank you, Colleen, for leading me such a great assist!

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Ashley Clark said...

I loved reading this blog! Thanks Michelle and Colleen. I actually picked up this book at ACFW and considered getting it there, then looked it up again once I got home, so maybe third time's a charm! :)

Great tips! Thanks for sharing! And very timely, as I'm brainstorming a couple novels right now!

At 4:19 PM, OpenID thoughtsonplot said...

Julie, I'm so glad the tips were helpful! Sometimes we just need that extra spark to make our stories pop.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

So glad that you are interested in my book. As to the spelling, I completely relate.

At 4:22 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Tonya, what a delight to hear you are part of my blog family! Thank you for your interest in my book.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Cindy Q, best of luck in the drawing.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Cliffhangers are so important to adding that stay-up-all-night component to our books!

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Joanna, glad you are excited to try these new strategies!

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Ashley, so excited to hear your interest in this brainstorming resource. It's amazing how seeing something over and over can draw you in.

(Now if only that chocolate cake on my kitchen table would hide itself before I'm tempted.)

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Alena T. said...

I totally loved Michelle's book. I have all kinds of notes sticking out of it.

It is easy to use and ask those very same questions of my current wip.

Thanks Michelle!
Alena T.

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Alena, thank you so much for your feedback on my new book. I'm so glad you find it to be a helpful resource to return to again and again.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Candi Sue said...

I would love to read this book! I recently finished my first MS and am brainstorming my second MS with my small ACFW crit group right now. We're gearing up for two upcoming contests. What a wonderful tool your book would be for us!

Thanks for being a guest, Michelle, and sharing your insight with us!

Candice Patterson

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Meghan Carver said...

Hope it's not too late for a chance to win! I haven't found a crit partner, and I'm not sure how to go about it, so this book sounds like a terrific help. Thanks!

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Candi Sue, sounds like you are going to be working hard. Best wishes for you and your writing group.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Megan, sometimes finding the best critique buddy is tough. Brainstorming is extremely important to success. If you haven't found a critique buddy at least find a reading pal to brainstorm with.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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