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Brainstorming (Our writing process, part 2)

Fortune shone upon us this week. We had a lucky overlap of my Spring Break (the future ninjas are out of school, which means no classes at the studio!) and Sam’s study days, which created almost two full days that we dedicated to writing purposes. We almost never have this kind of time, so we both were very excited to get to work on some upcoming projects.

You have to understand a little more about how Sam and I work. We often have brainstorming sessions together. But we almost always end up on wild tangents that have absolutely nothing to do with…anything. I blame Sam. (Of course, I suspect he would blame me, at least for some of the diversions…)

Brainstorming for us is an essential part of our creative process. It’s organic. Our editor once called it kinetic. We feed off one another. We feed off plenty of other things too–movies, books, stories, games, other people. Sam’s amazing wife Ashley often contributes to our discussions, sometimes feeding us critical ideas. And usually feeding us in the literal way as well, along with the mini-Stubbses who are usually running around during our brainstorming sessions.

Knowing how we tend to get carried away with new ideas, we decided to start yesterday with “Buk Tu!” (ie Book 2, or the sequel to The Tale of Telsharu). We are already about 30,000 words into Buk Tu, but we needed some follow-up brainstorming to move forward. Yesterday was perhaps our most productive day of brainstorming ever. We were able to hash out a lot, and I think progress will now be moving forward in great leaps and bounds.

The agenda for today was our new project. As Sam discussed in a previous post, he has been developing the foundations for our new story. Sam asked for an agenda for today’s session, knowing that we…*ahem*…have a tendency to get off track. Here was our agenda:

For the first couple of hours, we talked about the theme, but also a lot more about the world and the culture. That was when we got a little stymied. We had lunch, and then we were both at a bit of a loss. Sam, Ashley, the kiddies and I went outside for an hour. Sam and I talked a little while we worked in the yard with Ashley. We came back inside, and kept tossing ideas back in forth. Out of nowhere we developed the idea for a second book set in this same world. We toyed with the idea of combining the two, but rejected that. We thought about it again, and rejected it again. Sam said at one point, “It’s just not clicking for me.” We were getting nowhere…

And then, Sam exploded!

No really, out of nowhere, ideas gushed forth. It was the same story we’d been discussing all day, but with an altered twist that suddenly made it “click.” We talked it over, and it all came spilling out, almost faster than I could write down. In the space of twenty minutes, suddenly we had a plot, and characters, and motive, and backstory, and a connection to our greater worldbuilding scheme, and how it all related to the sequel.

This is just how it goes with us sometimes. The ideas are developed, cultivated, drawn from outside sources. But when it comes down to it, usually our ideas come from a spark of inspiration that the two of us grab and run with. Though in general, Sam tends to do more of the developing, and I tend to do more of the grabbing and running!

And so we are off to the races. Yes, we are working on two projects simultaneously. There are simply too many great ideas in the universe to limit one’s self to a single story. Now we are into true writing mode!

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