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Welcome to The Inkwell, the blog site of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) of Colorado.

Each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you can find a wide variety of topics and insight
from inspiration to instruction to humor and more!

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Brainstorming as Revision

I'm predating this guest post from ACFW Colorado member Beth Vogt. Actually I posted it a week ago, so it would be up and ready to read last Monday. However, somewhere between the time I posted it on Sunday evening and Monday morning, the post vanished to cyberspace, not to be found again. So . . . here it is. 

Thank you, Beth, for being so patient!

Brainstorming as Revision

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.

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Disney Imagineers:

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


Evangeline Denmark said...

I suppose I better make good on that offer with some gluten-free cookies. =)
I loved your post. I would be nowhere without the brainstorming sessions we've had in critique group and at OTB and over the phone and over email and via mental telepathy.
I'm sure some folks can write well all by themselves, but I'm not one of them. I need company on the Dark Side.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Evangeline, will always accept gluten-free cookies--but your friendship is even more appreciated!
And brainstorming together is the best! When my characters' voices are silent (Can you believe I am even saying that?!) it is so good to talk things out with you and other writers who say, "Try this!" or "Try that!" or "Maybe your character would do this!"

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