Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sharing Ideas

I was reminded yesterday of how important it is for a writer to have someone to bounce ideas off. My son's girlfriend is an aspiring author. She's smart and creative and I'm sure she'll go far with it. That excites me. I enjoy talking to her, sharing a little advice and getting advice from her as well.

Yesterday, she had the idea for a new story that she wants to write. It's a sci-fi scenario and sounds really cool! If I were a horrible person, I'd steal it and write my own novel, that's how good it is. She started bouncing ideas off my boys (I was napping) and by the time I got up, things were getting interesting. Brainstorming with a bunch of creative people, whether writers or not, can be a lot of fun. However, there's a danger there.

What's the drawback to brainstorming like that? Being overwhelmed with ideas and seeing the direction you'd thought to take change and warp into something else. Each person sees the story going his or her way, not the author's. The more aggressive insist that it must go in a certain direction. Frustrating in the extreme!

When I first started writing my sci-fi series, I asked for my husband's input. He's been an avid
sci-fi fan for many years. Unfortunately, he and I saw the story going diametrically opposed directions. He wanted to play up some of the sub-plots that really didn't need expansion. He got upset with me when I didn't use his ideas, so eventually I quit asking for his input. Though it made things easier in the long run, it also cut me off from a lucrative source of ideas. I liked the repartee the young people engaged in yesterday, and contributed my own perspective. It was fun and, I hope, helpful to her. Having other writers around to discuss stories with is very important. That sort of back and forth exchange is necessary in the creative process.

Authors are, by nature of their career, somewhat solitary individuals. Even in a group of "regular people", the author is watching, listening, categorizing and cataloging the others, filing them away for future use. However, get a group of authors together and you generally can't get them to shut up. They talk about their characters like they are real and discuss subjects, often in public, that would shock and appall "regular people".

For example, the NaNoWriMo group I attend was discussing killing Cliff Brooks. This is one of the challenges presented by the NaNo boards and several of us like to take the challenge every year. Each of us had a particularly grisly, horrific end planned and we discussed it loudly and excitedly in the Panera dining area as we sipped coffee and ate cinnamon rolls. Other patrons actually got up and moved. I guess they thought were were either crazy, demented or serial killers. (Or a combination of the three) It was funny, at least to me.

One reason I love doing my radio shows so much is that I have the opportunity to talk to authors from all over the world. Regardless of our background, genre or country of origin, or writing style, we all have one thing in common--We look at life from a unique perspective. It's that outlook that sets us apart, making us who we are.

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