Thursday, July 26, 2018


I've been having a tough time plotting these past couple of weeks, and it brings to mind how helpful it is to sometimes simply have someone sit down with us and ask all the "what ifs". Even if the particular question doesn't quite fit our story, it's amazing how this sometimes jars our imagination to the point where we have our A-HAH! moment and can continue on.

Sometimes it feels like no one's about when we need them, though. So I thought I'd offer a brainstorm session in the comment box below this post.  (We've done Public Brainstorms a couple of times in the past, where I accepted entries and posted each one separately. I thought I'd try a simpler approach this time to see how it goes.)

Are you plotting/story planning/drafting? Are you feeling stuck/confused/discouraged? Ask your question in the comment box below! I will copy it here (in the body of this post) so people can see it easily, and then they'll be able to comment beneath your comment to perhaps offer the question you most needed.

Want to try?

It might look like this:

My protagonist and her boyfriend have arrived at her house late at night, and this is a turning point where something awful has happened and it looks like her boyfriend is responsible, but I can't think of what that awful thing should be.


My hero needs to go to the Plains of Despair, because there is a magical item there that is important for his quest. However, I can't come up with a believable motivation for him to go there, other than I just need him to. Can you throw me some motivation questions?

Now, those may seem sort of vague, but trust me (and I'm sure you already know this)--you never know what will spark you. It's like a bottle of Drano poured down a hair-clogged pipe!

THIS IS IMPORTANT: As folks leave their ideas, don't come back and tell them why their ideas won't work--unless it is posed as a question! For instance, if someone says, "What if she finds the bloody razor after the donkey relay? Would that throw off your time line?" In this instance, it's fine to answer yes or no, and engage in dialogue. But please don't be a Negative Nellie and punch down other people's brainstorms. Read, absorb, let your brain start quietly ticking.

Post your stuck-place in the comments below. Then share the link to this post and wait for help to arrive!


  1. I've been going through major revisions, and I've got a new antagonist for my story, Rachael. During the second half, the main character is hiding her best friend from the police. If he's found, he'll either get deported or die, and she won't be in much better shape.

    I mean for Rachael to wreck everything and expose the main character to the police. Although Rachael won't understand the full consequences of her actions, she'll be doing it with malice intent. It'll add great emotional tension, since the antagonist is the MC's ex-best friend. I can't wait to write the confrontation scene.

    There's just one problem--how does Rachael expose them? Throw me some suggestions.

    1. there's always the infamous setting up of a meeting somewhere semi-public (or in view of surveillance cameras) when each party thinks they are the only one besides the MC who will be there. OR MC sets up a meet w/ best friend someplace where she knows antagonist will be, then MC doesn't show up, but hangs in the wings to witness the meetup btwn best friend and antagonist.

    2. I will start with how Rachel finds out where the MC and her new best friend are hiding. What if the MC needs her ex-best friend's to help in some way to escape with her new best friend? So as JM suggests, she agrees to meet them somewhere but hands over the information to the police who will be waiting when the MC and her partner show up

    3. If they are ex best friends, one of them must have done something to the other to break up their friendship. Maybe Rachel contacts the MC with the suggestion they get together to try and mend the rift between then, and then sets the MC up for the fall.

  2. My heroine is a princess who must marry into another royal family to forge an alliance between their two countries. I can't really think of a good reason why the two countries need each other.

    1. One country could be between the other and an important trading port. Or they could both be threatened by a third party and need to work together to defend/defeat.

    2. The most obvious reason would be that the two countries are stronger together as the previous poster suggested. But also, (I'm guessing) the subtext here is that the princess MUST marry someone she hates to keep the peace between the two nations.

    3. The Hapsburgs married off their children and grandchildren to just about every royal family in Europe. Why? Because it's better to have friends than enemies. And how likely are you to attack the country where your child is king or queen?

      Or consider Belgium, a small country surrounded by much bigger countries. It makes alliances so the bigger countries won't attack it. But why do the bigger countries need Belgium? Well, if the Germans decide they want to attack France, they can't just walk in. Belgium is in the way. So France isn't caugt in a surprise attack. Belgium will be attacked first, and France has time to prepare. They can also help the Belgians fight, which keeps the war out of France and on Belgium soil.

    4. Thanks, JM Holmes, icsjohn and Barbara. Great suggestions. Thank you!

  3. One of the best brainstorming tool is mind maps. They help to gather ideas came up in the brainstorming sessions in a meaningful order. The best way to understand this is to look at few mind map examples . There are many examples in the diagram community of Creately.

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