Monday, March 29, 2010

Brainstorming as Revision

Because we had some extra slots at the end of this month, we asked Beth Vogt to guest blog for us today.

Call me crazy, but I love editing and revising.
I sometimes get caught up in the challenge of tightening my sentences, downsizing my word count and selecting just the right word. It’s difficult to write “The End” and hit the send button. (I just decided to rewrite that last sentence before I moved on to the rest of this blog post. Ah, such is the writing life of an editor!)
As writers we often focus on what’s not working when we revise. We look for all the errors: grammar, punctuation, spelling, run-on sentences, and rambling thoughts. I’d like to challenge you to jump outside the revising box and think about what could work.
One of the best ways to revise your work in progress (WIP) is to brainstorm the next draft with other writers. Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, brainstorming offers an overlooked tool that takes your writing deeper and might guide you in an unexpected new direction.
After you’ve assembled your “dream team”, how do you effectively brainstorm to improve your writing?
1.     Hand out the most recent copy of your WIP. Let the members of your writers group read what you’ve written.
2.     Give your brainstormers some basic information. Tell them what you’re aiming for in the chapter and where you’re struggling. Say something like, “It just drops off at the end. I don’t know how to wrap it up.”
3.     Let individuals ask you questions. When my non-fiction critique group helps me revise, someone else takes notes while we talk and then e-mails me the notes afterward. That way, I have a record of all the innovative thoughts and suggestions.
4.     Be open to any ideas to improve your WIP. You may not implement every idea, but don’t reject any of them outright. Mull over all the suggestions. I’ve heard that Disney Imagineers, who develop all the ground-breaking designs for Walt Disney theme parks, toss a dollar in a bowl if they denigrate another Imagineer’s idea during brainstorming sessions.

When you hit a wall or don’t know what road to take with your writing, unleashing the questions, ideas, and input of brainstorming partners helps you see new possibilities.

Hot links:

 Beth K. Vogt was happily minding her own business writing non-fiction when she was lured to the Dark Side with an offer of cookies. (Thanks, Evangeline!) She edits Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, and is privileged to meet weekly with bestselling author Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark to work on her WIP, Wish You Were Here. Visit her blog


No comments: