3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming

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Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Group work in the writing community can be wonderful, or frustrating. It becomes frustrating when individuals aren’t on point when you brainstorm your story, or you end up following story threads that eventually won’t work in your story. But the rewards of a group brainstorming session can be substantial.

So, how do you get brainstorming sessions to be effective ways to expand your story options? Gather your courage to share your story with others and ask for their help.

Brainstorming with other writers.can bring new life to an author’s stories. The challenge is often in finding the right group to brainstorm with and keeping the brainstorming session focused enough to be helpful.

Over the past few years I’ve watched some brainstorming groups succeed and some fail. Each group that failed got bogged down in one of three areas. Here are 3 tips to successful group brainstorming from my observations.

3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming:

  1. Select group members carefully. Keep the group small- 6 or less to allow everyone time to bounce ideas. Find group members who use similar methods to write, providing a commonality of terms and knowledge.
  2. Identify the focus of the session. A complete book is too broad of a topic to brainstorm successfully in one session. Instead, focus on one thread of the story. This allows everyone in the group to focus on the area of greatest need. If the whole story idea is the focus, recognize that it may take a few brainstorming sessions to complete it.
  3. Record ideas and follow-up. During the brainstorming session, record ideas without passing judgement on them. Occasionally, redirect the conversation back to the thread you want to explore. Have a follow-up brainstorming session to further develop the ideas from the first session. This follow-up will deepen your story.

What works for you in group brainstorming?

Can You Solve it?

junior sleuthIt’s February already! Can you believe it? The days are getting longer (Yippee!), and here in North Mississippi, we’ve had a wonderfully warm winter after a couple of days in the teens. But, hey! Any day in January that doesn’t have ice and snow is a good day.

So here’s the Mystery Question this week:

A woman living in New Jersey vanished in 1991 and was reported missing after she did not report to work for several days. So what happened to the woman?

  1. She was eventually found living in California. When asked why she didn’t contact her family, she reported they had a falling out and she didn’t want them to know where she was.
  2. Bikers kidnapped her and kept her prisoner for five years before she escaped. After she escaped she didn’t contact her family for fear her brother, who was a member of the motorcycle gang, would tell the bikers where she was.
  3. A maintenance man at her complex broke into her apartment and smothered her with a pillow then dumped her remains in a remote area in New Jersey.
  4. She witnessed a murder and after telling the police all she knew they put her in the WITSEC Program ((The Witness Security Program) under the jurisdiction of the U. S. Marshalls. After the murderer died, she was able to resurface.

So what happened to the woman? Leave a comment and if we get five comments, I’ll give away a copy of JUSTICE DELAYED which releases TODAY!! (print if the winner has a USA address; digital for all others.)

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It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincade of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

How To Create A Great Romantic Gesture

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Photo by Katy Wolfer

Valentines Day is just around the corner and I am beginning to think about romance. Sweet moments from my past. Creating new romantic memories.

The movies have the most amazing romance moments, but it so hard to duplicate in real life. Maybe we can get a few tips from them to learn how to create a great romantic gesture of our own.

If you are looking for a way to make a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s Day romantic gesture, here are a few tips to creating that perfect moment.

How To Create A Great Romantic Gesture with Tips from the Movies:

From 10 Things I Hate About You:

  1. Be Vulnerable or Take a Risk – The character sings in front of a whole stadium of people. There is a great risk of rejection.
  2. Go Big, Or Go Home- It doesn’t have to be expensive to be big, but must show significant effort to be big.

From Love Actually:

  1. Prepare For Flaws – If you are not great with words, plan for your own flaw by being creative. Mark in this clip says the most important part of the message with signs.
  2. Create Smiles – Humor can be a great element to the romantic moment if it is a special part of your relationship and what draws you together. Notice the two humorous moments on the signs.

From While You Were Sleeping:

  1. Element of Surprise- An unexpected moment of romance brings a sudden rush of joy. The contrast of the unexpected romance with the mundane makes it that much more special.
  2. Create the Perfect Setting- For Annie, she is completely without family. She doesn’t want to be alone. Jack bringing his family with to the proposal is actually very special to her because she is gaining a whole family. He listened to her heartache and gave her something she had always dreamed of.

From The Titanic:

  1. Sacrifice Something- Whether it is something you love or even in this case, your life, sacrifice is a huge gesture of love.

What is your favorite romantic gesture from a book or movie?

 

Music Monday: Gabriel’s Message

by Jill Kemerer

Today is my final day as a contributor to Thoughts on Plot. I’ve been so blessed by all of the talented authors here as well as you, our dear readers. I recently signed a 4-book contract with Love Inspired which will keep me busy the next eighteen months. But even before the contract, my schedule had been bulging, and I was finding it increasingly difficult to meet my obligations.

I’m honored to have spent the past two years with you. I pray you had a happy and joyous Christmas, and blessings to you in 2017!

Before I say farewell, though, I’m sharing a beautiful and haunting version of Gabriel’s Message, by Sting. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Thank you again, and have a happy New Year!!

Jill Kemerer

Heartwarming Thursday: The Beauty of Snow

by Jill Kemerer

We woke up to a light layer of snow last Sunday, and the flakes continued to fall all day. It’s funny how snow can evoke different moods. The tiny pellets pelted diagonally by brisk winds don’t make me ooh or ahh. Those little buggers turn into drifts, and you can tell just by looking at them they’ll sting your face if you walk outside.

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I’ve never been to Trillium Lake, but this picture (courtesy of adrian at Unsplash) is gorgeous!

The big, fat flakes make me happy. They’re cute and fun, and no, they won’t last. They tend to dissolve as soon as they hit the ground.

The mid-sized flakes, though–the ones that fall for hours on end–those bring a smile to my face. They accumulate as the day wears on, and they look so special, gently coming down. Beautiful.

Winter can be so bleak and dreary. The pretty leaves covering the trees are gone; the trunks and branches stand gray against the sky. It will be months before vivid red roses appear and green grass meets the eye. But sitting inside, watching it snow, brings a beauty all its own.

What do you find beautiful in December?

Have a lovely day!

Super Sleuth Challenge: Holiday Porch Pirates

Fa la la la la la la la lot of theft going on this time of year. One popular choice is snatching packages from front porches.

Like the woman who was arrested for lifting holiday packages fresh from front doors. So how was she caught?

A: A home security camera caught it all on tape, including the license plate number. Never back into the driveway. It might save time…but in the end you get time.

B: The woman gave one of the gifts to her daughter. Turned out the inside of the purse was monogrammed…to a student her daughter attended school with. The daughter returned it, thus sending her mom up the river.

C: The woman’s car broke down three blocks from her latest snatch and grab. The man who stopped to help her noticed several packages all addresssed to different names…he got suspicious and called the police. Lesson to Learn: cover stolen property with a blanket or something!

 

Merry Christmas!

Music Monday: Holiday Romance

I love Christmas and I love holiday romances. Here are a couple of holiday songs that really make me feel like lighting the fire, fixing a cup of cocoa and snuggling with  my man.

Phil Wickham’s rendition of this classic Christmas song is soooo romantic. I just love it.

Francesca’s song is so soft, beautiful, and yes romantic in tone. I actually kept this song on repeat for days as I wrote the ice skating scene in my Christmas novella, Hope Under Mistletoe. It’s available for .99 right now!

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Which Christmas songs make you want to curl up by the fire and watch the lights from the tree twinkle while you sip cocoa or cider?