Create the Storm, Then Tame It!

Today, I want to talk about brainstorming. I love that word. It succinctly describes what goes on in a writer’s mind when in the throes of creating a novel.

I imagine we all spend large blocks of time stirring up the storm. Thinking up characters and scene ideas and twists and cool ways to bring out the themes we want to explore.

A mind is an amazing thing! But it can be hard to harness that storm of ideas and funnel them into something cohesive. I picture Ol’ Ben out in the storm with his kite, the key dangling from the string, hoping lightning will zap the kite and travel the string to the key.

What then? Did he stick the key in a jar, hoping the electricity would be trapped like a firefly? I can’t remember the story.

Can you really trap electricity in a jar? Maybe if you have a tight lid. And then what can you do with it? Well, a few smarties figured that out, and now I can turn on a switch and voila! Light. I’m grateful for electricity because it powers my computer.

You may not be as old as I am, but I grew up in the day when you had to type on a manual typewriter when you wanted to write scenes. (Well, my brother, huge successful TV producer and author, still writes with a pen on a legal pad—yep, the whole shebang). I sucked at typewriting, and pounding those heavy keys made my hands tired.

My point (sorry for digressing)? We generate an electrical storm in our brains when we sit down to create a story, whether we’re lying on a couch with our eyes closed (Tony Hillerman’s method) or we mumble to ourselves when walking the dog (me) or we type away on our  nifty electronic device (powered by the mysterious electricity).

But we need that string and key to harness that storm and utilize all those bits whirling in our head. You can’t write a great novel if all those ideas are whipping around in circles, stuck inside your skull.

What to Do with Your Storm

So what to do? You have to get the storm down onto paper (or the virtual page—whatever method works for you). I’m old school, so I like to use pen and paper.

And that’s why I created my super detailed workbook to help you nail those 12 key pillars of novel construction.

I never had a desire to create a workbook. But I’d used a few in the past and found them generally helpful. What I mostly found them to be was shallow and often too vague to really benefit me. I’d fill out a few lines, then quit.

Hmmm, I thought: What kind of workbook would really excite me? Get me digging into my ideas and help me move through each step in a clear way so I would be confident I had just what I needed?

One thing that really helped me master my roadblocks in a huge way was attending some workshops given by literary agent Donald Maass. Particularly his one-week-long Breakout Novel workshop.

Wow, I learned so much! In fact, when the course was over, I felt like I’d “arrived.” That’s the feeling you get when you know you finally have everything you need to write a great novel, regardless of genre or plot.

And you know what the key thing (sorry for the pun) was that helped? The questions. Don’s teaching method involves asking a lot of questions and letting them hang in the air. Questions to ask of your characters, for example.

“What does your character feel at the start of the scene? What does she feel like five minutes after the scene ends? Can you think of one place your character loves to go to that makes her nostalgic? What does she notice in that place that no one else does?  What key scene can you create between her and her best friend that will be the iconic moment for their relationship? Who can betray your character before the climax that will make her want to give up?

And on and on.

Questions Are the Key

Wow, the questions just came in waves by the hundreds. Which made me realize that questions are THE best way to bring order to the storm. Questions create the storm in your brain, but answering the questions is what starts to bring order. Make sense?

So my idea of the perfect workbook was to load it up with hundreds of brainstorming questions.

In my workbook, for each of the 12 pillars, you get a whole lot of brainstorming questions. Then, you get a deep checklist to work through, to help you “pass inspection.”

I didn’t want to create some tedious, boring workbook. So I didn’t!

Seriously, this workbook is going to kick your butt and get that storm brewing in your brain. And help you get it down on paper in a way that you can grab your ideas and bring order to chaos. I believe it will be the BEST workbook you’ll ever use. Get your print copy of the workbook HERE! (sorry, it’s not available as an ebook. You need to write in it!)

I thought I could throw the thing together in a week, but the workbook took me four long, hard months to create. My aim: to take the mystery out of novel writing and help every single author get how to take an idea and flesh it out into a killer novel. It’s doable!

I’m all about helping you Fast Track to success!

I got an email from a writer who said he finished using the workbook and was excited about the results. He even sent me this screen shot:

So if you want to tame the storm, don’t stand in the rain with a kite and a key at the end of your string. Dig into my workbook and bring order to chaos!

If you’ve been using the workbook, share how it’s helped you!

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