got 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!