Brainstorming

I love brainstorming scenes. My critique partners and I used to get together and brainstorm what happens next? Now I brainstorm scenes with my sister while we walk the dogs. Since I just did some wonderful brainstorming this morning for my next time travel romance, I thought I would share how my brainstorming process works.
Let's pretend we're writing a western romance. Hero and heroine have to get across dangerous territory to get to the town where they plan to settle down. When writing romance, I always try to come up with a plot that will keep them together at least 90% of the time. At this point we have no idea why these two people are crossing dangerous lands to get to this other town.  

We need conflict. So, heroine tells, anyone who asks, a lame story about needing to get to her sister who is about to have a baby in this far away town...but heroine is REALLY running away from a deep dark secret! Okay, let's BRAINSTORM that secret:

1. Heroine hit some guy over the head with a frying pan and she thinks she killed him. She's a murderer. Then, through the window, she sees the sheriff coming to her house, so she escapes out back and ends up heading across dangerous territory.
2. Maybe heroine's friend/mother/sister sent her a treasure map, so now heroine needs to get to the town and must cross miles and miles of dangerous territory to get there.

3. OR maybe heroine faked her own death to get out of an abusive relationship and now she's escaping and wants to get to new town to start over.

Okay, I quickly decide to go with #2 because it interests me. If the idea doesn't appeal to YOU, the writer, how are YOU going to make the scene come alive?  So, I'm going with the treasure map scenario. 

Somehow heroine ends up traveling with a guy (hero material--not too mean and not too nice). This hero of mine isn't too happy about having to travel for days with some yappy prim and proper lady, but for some reason he is stuck with her. TIME TO BRAINSTORM:

1. Maybe they run into each other at the stables and good ol' Uncle Jimmy suggests they ride togther.
2. Maybe heroine hires him to keep her safe and she pays him half now and half when they arrive to town.
3. ?? more ideas go here.

Okay, I'm going with #2 again. Now we know the basic set up. But we still need lots of things to happen along the way. We need SCENES. Because if we just have the hero and heroine talking/arguing and getting saddle sore...BORING.

So how about...the hero and heroine aren't too happy. She thinks he's a big grouch and he thinks she's a pain in the butt. But THEN they come upon a family that has lost everything when they were attacked. The man is taking care of his wife who is in labor. They have two kids that will never make it in the hot sun with hardly any food or water. So our heroine agrees to take the kids with them and they'll meet up with mom and dad later (they hope). Hero isn't happy about this...but what can he do? He's hero material, remember?

To make this journey more interesting, hero has never liked kids. Why? BRAINSTORM:
1. Maybe he was abandoned as a kid.
2. Maybe he took care of his 7 siblings and vowed never to have kids of his own.
3. Maybe he doesn't want to bring a poor kid into this godforsaken world.
4. Whatever his problem is...the heroine will probably end up helping him with this flaw, so he can become a better man by the end of this book.

Okay, so now you have a heroine who told hero that she needs to get to her sister, but she is really going to the town to find the treasure. As the hero and heroine travel along with two kids, what can happen along the way? BRAINSTORM:
1. One of the kids won't stop talking...non stop jabbering, giving the hero a headache.
2. Maybe one kid is afraid of everything, including his/her own shadow.
3. One of the kids almost gets them killed when he/she runs off into Indian territory
4. Maybe the kid gets bit my a snake and hero starts sucking the bite, but the kid was just kidding and the kids laugh and laugh. A regular prankster.

We could use one of the above or all!
Well, of course, they all get to town and they have all bonded by the end of their journey across dangerous territory. Off goes the hero, goodbye...he walks off as the heroine and the kids watch him leave...watching with their puppy-dog looks...and, of course, he can't leave them, so he says he will stay with them for ONE more week, but that's it! (yeah, right).

And then what happens? BRAINSTORM.
1. Heroine sneaks off in the middle of the night.
2. In the morning the hero is wondering where she went and that's when one of the kids mentions nonchalantly that she probably went to find the treasure since he/she saw the treasure map in her bag.
3. Oh, I know! Just thought of this. Guess what? The hero...all along...has come to this town because he is ALSO looking for the treasure! Maybe he has part of the map tattooed on his arm or something! He sets off to go after heroine, but not before paying the innkeeper $ to watch over the kids that aren't even his.

Now hero is really angry. He spent his money on the damn kids for one thing, and Ms. Prim and Proper lied to him! No way is he going to let her get the treasure first. BRAINSTORM:

1. He watches her from afar as she sets up camp.
2. Maybe he sees Indians getting ready to attack. He has a good mind to let them have at her, but he wants that map.
3. And so on, and so on!

That's how I brainstorm and ultimately write all of my books. Good luck with your writing. If you have any questions, contact me. 

4 comments:

Vanessa said...

Love the blow by blow account of the process. Continued good luck.

AJ Knauss said...

Theresa,
Great post! As a writer I need to know the beginning, the end and a few landmarkes along the way...the rest is brainstorming and it was fun reading a concrete example of that. Best wishes,
AJ Knauss, author of ROOM FOUR

Ann Cameron said...

Thanks for the post! I've been going through the blahs with writing and this inspiring post has come at a wonderful time.

Nicole said...

What an interesting post! I never thought that it would be fun to brainstorm with someone else, I guess I always thought that it was something that I had to do on my own....what a thought! :) I really like the idea of having someone else as your sounding board there. Great idea! :)