Sunday, July 11, 2010

Plot Party and Brainstorming

Well, not this kind of party.
This past weekend Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers had their annual Plot Party at one of the member’s homes—Diane Sismour. The drive to her house was over miles of rolling hills and beautiful open Pennsylvania farmland. Upstairs in a gorgeously remodeled carriage house, eight of us ate salads, quiche, and snacks and drank tea and coffee while we discussed our current books or asked for help on plotting new ones.

Colm Toibin

We selected names and each person got their chance to ask questions or discuss their book. I had questions on the final book in my series, wanting to make sure all my plot points sounded solid, and that my story had no plot holes. I also wanted to brainstorm my black moment and tweak it. I knew the ending, just wanted some ideas on the best way to get there.

Others wanted help with goals for their characters, or felt their story wasn’t working or was stalled and wanted to know why. Another writer had a basic idea and premise for a new story and wanted help brainstorming it to get her jump started. With everyone throwing ideas out, I discovered we all have different strengths. Even if an idea won’t work, that idea can open up a new perspective or an alternate possibility for the story.

David Starkey

Plotting groups are different than critique groups. A plot group can discuss or hash out specific plot elements, goals, motivations and conflicts of characters, or brainstorm scenes or turning points. Plot holes are found and repaired, new life is infused into a dying story and enthusiasm sparked when writers have lost direction.

Haworth Parsonage -Bronte sister writing room

Creative energy feeds off itself and new ideas are considered as others are discarded. The plot group should be arranged as a brainstorming session and not a critique. Critiquing can come at another time. Just get the ideas flowing and write them down or tape them. It’s also a good idea to have a timekeeper so each person has a set amount of time, so the session doesn’t go on too long and the group gets tired.

Kevin Crossley-Holland

And plan for food and drink, probably not alcohol, to keep your minds sharp. To save time it’s a good idea to come with the outline of your story, a list of questions of what you need help with or a basic idea or premise for the story you want brainstormed.

This morning I was up at 5:00 am reworking two synopses on two novels I’m writing at the same time. Even though I only discussed one book at the plot party, the group gave me fresh ideas for both stories.

Alissa Nielsen

After the Plot Party where is your writing space? I posted a few photos of authors' writing spaces, from the spacious, to the cluttered, to the cramped. I couldn't imagine working inside a closet. Where do you write? What would be your dream writer's space? I write on the dining room table, but I have my eye on a spare bedroom as soon as we get a large enough desk.


Amber Skyze said...

I was using our spare bedroom until our son moved back home. Now it's wherever I land when I get up in the morning. :)

pattie said...

Look at that--there's even room for the cat!

Great post, Kath. Sorry I missed the plot party but "the call of the grandson" is too strong!

When I write, I write in the den, which is also my office. If I have the laptop, I write wherever I want to--within battery limits, of course.

Donna Coe-Velleman said...

I like the concept of the Plot Party and the suppoort you get seems great.

I work in the 3rd bedroom, which isn't a bedroom at all but a catch everything room. It's the only room where there's a computer and where I can get relative quiet.

Kathy Kulig said...

Hi Amber, It's nice to be mobile.
Hey Pattie, Yes, we missed you. It was a good plotting day. My battery is dead in my laptop so I have to be close to a plug.
Hi Donna, Plotting Parties are very helpful. It's an annual event for our group. I like quiet and room to spread out.

Tracy Cooper-Posey said...

I don't think I could ever plot by committee.

I've written two books with another person, under the Anastasia Black pen name. That was with Julia Templeton. It's telling that she got to write first, and I came after her and wrote over the top. She never argued back. LOL!!! Julia is much too nice for that.

Writing spaces...I want the very first one at the top of the post. Mmmmm.....


Erica Anderson said...

Thanks for the great pics--gives me something to dream about! I write at a desk in front of my living room window--close to the fridge and the coffee maker!