Idea Torrents

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    I’m writing this before I head out to the Romantic Times convention— a week ahead of the posting date, because I won’t be home until the night before I’m supposed to blog.  I won’t be at RT all that time.  Part of it will be spent brainstorming with a couple of the other wenches, which leads to the subject of this post— brainstorming.

There are as many reasons to brainstorm as there are fish in the sea.  Officially, brainstorming started as a business method of breaking out of established patterns of thought to develop a new way of thinking. Obviously, as creative writers, we hardly need to be encouraged to think creatively!  Our problem might be on the flip side—we have excessive numbers of ideas floating in our separate universes, and we need to narrow them down into a new and original structures.

According to business guidelines, brainstorming is what is called a “lateral thinking process.”  To a business mind, that might mean thinking of a can of Campbell’s soup as square and blue instead of cylindrical and red and white.  Shocking stuff!  And then the stormers are supposed to create something useful out of this wild idea.  I doubt any of them thought of painting a soup can on canvas and selling it for millions, ala Andy Warhol. Really, I think all  Campbells
businesses ought to have creative people on staff to shake it up a little. And governments could use us to imagine future scenarios, the “what ifs” that never seem to occur to them as they march off to war or hurricanes.

But I digress. As writers, we use our sessions to access each other’s wide variety of experience and knowledge.  Most of us have written well over twenty-five novels apiece, so we’ve spilled a lot of our own knowledge into print already.  We could let that back list form a foundation for dozens of more similar novels, but we’re writers. We like a challenge. We like trying new things. We like stretching our wings and soaring into uncharted territory.

So we dig into books and locate gems of material that fascinate us, but then we need to produce entire stories to fit these historical treasures.  Or we may have characters in our heads who insist on time Time_travel
traveling or building churches or other impossible feats about which we know nothing.  As these idea germs start to form into nebulous clouds of creation (just imagine the scenario accompanying this photo!), it’s extremely convenient to let the cloud coagulate over more than one brain. (Did you know that rain is produced by germs in cloud particles? Ponder that for a while!)

After we toss excited “what ifs” around for a while, each outdoing the other (with much screaming laughter and moans of torment), we’ll have three books worth of characters and some degree of plot. At that point, we’re forced to filter the stream of ideas through our various backgrounds and interests, each adding a new twist or turn that one mind alone couldn’t produce, Beads
creating—we hope—something useful. It’s up to the “owner” of the original nugget that seeded the clouds to sort through the glittering gems remaining to find the ones that make the necklace work. Which may be why we end up beading before the session ends. <G> 

Okay, I stretched that metaphor to a painful end. Anyone else use brainstorming—at work or elsewhere?  What are your methods?

60 thoughts on “Idea Torrents”

  1. I get a lot of ideas from research and what if questions. I’ve also been known to get ideas in dreams.
    On the research front, I swear I wrote down somewhere one of the wench’s – I believe Loretta Chase’s – favorite book on espionage during the Napoleonic Wars. It was not a well-known book, and I don’t think it was published by an academic press. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

    Reply
  2. I get a lot of ideas from research and what if questions. I’ve also been known to get ideas in dreams.
    On the research front, I swear I wrote down somewhere one of the wench’s – I believe Loretta Chase’s – favorite book on espionage during the Napoleonic Wars. It was not a well-known book, and I don’t think it was published by an academic press. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

    Reply
  3. I get a lot of ideas from research and what if questions. I’ve also been known to get ideas in dreams.
    On the research front, I swear I wrote down somewhere one of the wench’s – I believe Loretta Chase’s – favorite book on espionage during the Napoleonic Wars. It was not a well-known book, and I don’t think it was published by an academic press. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

    Reply
  4. I get a lot of ideas from research and what if questions. I’ve also been known to get ideas in dreams.
    On the research front, I swear I wrote down somewhere one of the wench’s – I believe Loretta Chase’s – favorite book on espionage during the Napoleonic Wars. It was not a well-known book, and I don’t think it was published by an academic press. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

    Reply
  5. I get a lot of ideas from research and what if questions. I’ve also been known to get ideas in dreams.
    On the research front, I swear I wrote down somewhere one of the wench’s – I believe Loretta Chase’s – favorite book on espionage during the Napoleonic Wars. It was not a well-known book, and I don’t think it was published by an academic press. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

    Reply
  6. In case the above seemed like a tease, I found the reference. The book is: Secret Service: British Agents in France, 1792-1815 by Elizabeth Sparrow.

    Reply
  7. In case the above seemed like a tease, I found the reference. The book is: Secret Service: British Agents in France, 1792-1815 by Elizabeth Sparrow.

    Reply
  8. In case the above seemed like a tease, I found the reference. The book is: Secret Service: British Agents in France, 1792-1815 by Elizabeth Sparrow.

    Reply
  9. In case the above seemed like a tease, I found the reference. The book is: Secret Service: British Agents in France, 1792-1815 by Elizabeth Sparrow.

    Reply
  10. In case the above seemed like a tease, I found the reference. The book is: Secret Service: British Agents in France, 1792-1815 by Elizabeth Sparrow.

    Reply
  11. I just got the note from Loretta. She said the book has gone out of print because the author wants to update it. She got it through interlibrary loan. From Loretta:
    It’s not the easiest reading I’ve ever encountered but it’s chock full of fascinating stuff:
    Secret Service: British Agents in France 1792-1815. Elizabeth Sparrow. The Boydell Press. ISBN – 0851157645
    I got it through Interlibrary Loan.

    Reply
  12. I just got the note from Loretta. She said the book has gone out of print because the author wants to update it. She got it through interlibrary loan. From Loretta:
    It’s not the easiest reading I’ve ever encountered but it’s chock full of fascinating stuff:
    Secret Service: British Agents in France 1792-1815. Elizabeth Sparrow. The Boydell Press. ISBN – 0851157645
    I got it through Interlibrary Loan.

    Reply
  13. I just got the note from Loretta. She said the book has gone out of print because the author wants to update it. She got it through interlibrary loan. From Loretta:
    It’s not the easiest reading I’ve ever encountered but it’s chock full of fascinating stuff:
    Secret Service: British Agents in France 1792-1815. Elizabeth Sparrow. The Boydell Press. ISBN – 0851157645
    I got it through Interlibrary Loan.

    Reply
  14. I just got the note from Loretta. She said the book has gone out of print because the author wants to update it. She got it through interlibrary loan. From Loretta:
    It’s not the easiest reading I’ve ever encountered but it’s chock full of fascinating stuff:
    Secret Service: British Agents in France 1792-1815. Elizabeth Sparrow. The Boydell Press. ISBN – 0851157645
    I got it through Interlibrary Loan.

    Reply
  15. I just got the note from Loretta. She said the book has gone out of print because the author wants to update it. She got it through interlibrary loan. From Loretta:
    It’s not the easiest reading I’ve ever encountered but it’s chock full of fascinating stuff:
    Secret Service: British Agents in France 1792-1815. Elizabeth Sparrow. The Boydell Press. ISBN – 0851157645
    I got it through Interlibrary Loan.

    Reply
  16. Thanks so much! I just looked to buy it online and was only able to find one used copy for 100 pounds. I’ll definitely try interlibrary loan.

    Reply
  17. Thanks so much! I just looked to buy it online and was only able to find one used copy for 100 pounds. I’ll definitely try interlibrary loan.

    Reply
  18. Thanks so much! I just looked to buy it online and was only able to find one used copy for 100 pounds. I’ll definitely try interlibrary loan.

    Reply
  19. Thanks so much! I just looked to buy it online and was only able to find one used copy for 100 pounds. I’ll definitely try interlibrary loan.

    Reply
  20. Thanks so much! I just looked to buy it online and was only able to find one used copy for 100 pounds. I’ll definitely try interlibrary loan.

    Reply
  21. I luv to filter my ideas through good friends – who know books.
    Lets see: My daughter (brilliant!) my writer friends (magnificent) and Miss Daisy – (omniscient) –
    🙂

    Reply
  22. I luv to filter my ideas through good friends – who know books.
    Lets see: My daughter (brilliant!) my writer friends (magnificent) and Miss Daisy – (omniscient) –
    🙂

    Reply
  23. I luv to filter my ideas through good friends – who know books.
    Lets see: My daughter (brilliant!) my writer friends (magnificent) and Miss Daisy – (omniscient) –
    🙂

    Reply
  24. I luv to filter my ideas through good friends – who know books.
    Lets see: My daughter (brilliant!) my writer friends (magnificent) and Miss Daisy – (omniscient) –
    🙂

    Reply
  25. I luv to filter my ideas through good friends – who know books.
    Lets see: My daughter (brilliant!) my writer friends (magnificent) and Miss Daisy – (omniscient) –
    🙂

    Reply
  26. Does Miss Daisy bark when she hears a good idea? “G”
    We also discovered a great new way of procrastinating…err, brainstorming. It’s called facade.com. We can do tarot readings on our characters! check it out.

    Reply
  27. Does Miss Daisy bark when she hears a good idea? “G”
    We also discovered a great new way of procrastinating…err, brainstorming. It’s called facade.com. We can do tarot readings on our characters! check it out.

    Reply
  28. Does Miss Daisy bark when she hears a good idea? “G”
    We also discovered a great new way of procrastinating…err, brainstorming. It’s called facade.com. We can do tarot readings on our characters! check it out.

    Reply
  29. Does Miss Daisy bark when she hears a good idea? “G”
    We also discovered a great new way of procrastinating…err, brainstorming. It’s called facade.com. We can do tarot readings on our characters! check it out.

    Reply
  30. Does Miss Daisy bark when she hears a good idea? “G”
    We also discovered a great new way of procrastinating…err, brainstorming. It’s called facade.com. We can do tarot readings on our characters! check it out.

    Reply
  31. PAT: Gorgeous necklace. Love to see a larger pic–I’m always looking for design ideas.
    EDITH: “Trying it on the dog” is a time-honored method–although it usually refers to practicing speeches.
    And I bounce ideas off my friend Hilde–sometimes the final result bears no resemblance to the original!
    I like to take some classic plot bit, either from history or from another book, and mess it about. What if we had a Tichborne-type claimant to the throne of a Galactic Empire? Suppose we had a sentient plant, something like a giant redwood only more so, as the ultimate armchair detective? (This last produced a sort of Nero Wolf and Archie Goodwin in Space setup.)

    Reply
  32. PAT: Gorgeous necklace. Love to see a larger pic–I’m always looking for design ideas.
    EDITH: “Trying it on the dog” is a time-honored method–although it usually refers to practicing speeches.
    And I bounce ideas off my friend Hilde–sometimes the final result bears no resemblance to the original!
    I like to take some classic plot bit, either from history or from another book, and mess it about. What if we had a Tichborne-type claimant to the throne of a Galactic Empire? Suppose we had a sentient plant, something like a giant redwood only more so, as the ultimate armchair detective? (This last produced a sort of Nero Wolf and Archie Goodwin in Space setup.)

    Reply
  33. PAT: Gorgeous necklace. Love to see a larger pic–I’m always looking for design ideas.
    EDITH: “Trying it on the dog” is a time-honored method–although it usually refers to practicing speeches.
    And I bounce ideas off my friend Hilde–sometimes the final result bears no resemblance to the original!
    I like to take some classic plot bit, either from history or from another book, and mess it about. What if we had a Tichborne-type claimant to the throne of a Galactic Empire? Suppose we had a sentient plant, something like a giant redwood only more so, as the ultimate armchair detective? (This last produced a sort of Nero Wolf and Archie Goodwin in Space setup.)

    Reply
  34. PAT: Gorgeous necklace. Love to see a larger pic–I’m always looking for design ideas.
    EDITH: “Trying it on the dog” is a time-honored method–although it usually refers to practicing speeches.
    And I bounce ideas off my friend Hilde–sometimes the final result bears no resemblance to the original!
    I like to take some classic plot bit, either from history or from another book, and mess it about. What if we had a Tichborne-type claimant to the throne of a Galactic Empire? Suppose we had a sentient plant, something like a giant redwood only more so, as the ultimate armchair detective? (This last produced a sort of Nero Wolf and Archie Goodwin in Space setup.)

    Reply
  35. PAT: Gorgeous necklace. Love to see a larger pic–I’m always looking for design ideas.
    EDITH: “Trying it on the dog” is a time-honored method–although it usually refers to practicing speeches.
    And I bounce ideas off my friend Hilde–sometimes the final result bears no resemblance to the original!
    I like to take some classic plot bit, either from history or from another book, and mess it about. What if we had a Tichborne-type claimant to the throne of a Galactic Empire? Suppose we had a sentient plant, something like a giant redwood only more so, as the ultimate armchair detective? (This last produced a sort of Nero Wolf and Archie Goodwin in Space setup.)

    Reply
  36. George MacDonald Fraser. I know this was a topic a while ago, but just found more info. Sorry to be off topic. But I am at least timely in terms of periodicals. I read Military History Magazine. In the May/June issue (I am actually reading a current issue) there is an amazing review about the memoir he wrote about his time as a private in Burma during WWII. The reviewer qualifies it as one of the few books about war that have literary merit. He comments on his talent for dialog. He also lauds MacDonald for immortalizing his fellow soldiers. Quarted Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II Skyhorse, New York, 2007. $14.95. If anyone is interested in immersing themselves in more of his works.

    Reply
  37. George MacDonald Fraser. I know this was a topic a while ago, but just found more info. Sorry to be off topic. But I am at least timely in terms of periodicals. I read Military History Magazine. In the May/June issue (I am actually reading a current issue) there is an amazing review about the memoir he wrote about his time as a private in Burma during WWII. The reviewer qualifies it as one of the few books about war that have literary merit. He comments on his talent for dialog. He also lauds MacDonald for immortalizing his fellow soldiers. Quarted Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II Skyhorse, New York, 2007. $14.95. If anyone is interested in immersing themselves in more of his works.

    Reply
  38. George MacDonald Fraser. I know this was a topic a while ago, but just found more info. Sorry to be off topic. But I am at least timely in terms of periodicals. I read Military History Magazine. In the May/June issue (I am actually reading a current issue) there is an amazing review about the memoir he wrote about his time as a private in Burma during WWII. The reviewer qualifies it as one of the few books about war that have literary merit. He comments on his talent for dialog. He also lauds MacDonald for immortalizing his fellow soldiers. Quarted Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II Skyhorse, New York, 2007. $14.95. If anyone is interested in immersing themselves in more of his works.

    Reply
  39. George MacDonald Fraser. I know this was a topic a while ago, but just found more info. Sorry to be off topic. But I am at least timely in terms of periodicals. I read Military History Magazine. In the May/June issue (I am actually reading a current issue) there is an amazing review about the memoir he wrote about his time as a private in Burma during WWII. The reviewer qualifies it as one of the few books about war that have literary merit. He comments on his talent for dialog. He also lauds MacDonald for immortalizing his fellow soldiers. Quarted Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II Skyhorse, New York, 2007. $14.95. If anyone is interested in immersing themselves in more of his works.

    Reply
  40. George MacDonald Fraser. I know this was a topic a while ago, but just found more info. Sorry to be off topic. But I am at least timely in terms of periodicals. I read Military History Magazine. In the May/June issue (I am actually reading a current issue) there is an amazing review about the memoir he wrote about his time as a private in Burma during WWII. The reviewer qualifies it as one of the few books about war that have literary merit. He comments on his talent for dialog. He also lauds MacDonald for immortalizing his fellow soldiers. Quarted Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II Skyhorse, New York, 2007. $14.95. If anyone is interested in immersing themselves in more of his works.

    Reply
  41. I can’t pass up the opportunity to recommend my favorite work of history: THE REASON WHY by Cecil Woodham-Smith, which I’ve probably already mentioned about six times–about the Charge of the Light Brigade.

    Reply
  42. I can’t pass up the opportunity to recommend my favorite work of history: THE REASON WHY by Cecil Woodham-Smith, which I’ve probably already mentioned about six times–about the Charge of the Light Brigade.

    Reply
  43. I can’t pass up the opportunity to recommend my favorite work of history: THE REASON WHY by Cecil Woodham-Smith, which I’ve probably already mentioned about six times–about the Charge of the Light Brigade.

    Reply
  44. I can’t pass up the opportunity to recommend my favorite work of history: THE REASON WHY by Cecil Woodham-Smith, which I’ve probably already mentioned about six times–about the Charge of the Light Brigade.

    Reply
  45. I can’t pass up the opportunity to recommend my favorite work of history: THE REASON WHY by Cecil Woodham-Smith, which I’ve probably already mentioned about six times–about the Charge of the Light Brigade.

    Reply
  46. And I forgot some of the excellent works on technology for the non-mechanical-minded: James Burke’s CONNECTIONS TV series and their companion books, as well as THE DAY THE UNIVERSE CHANGED; and a wonderful series on the history of mapping: THE SHAPE OF THE WORLD. I don’t think there’s a video version, but I have the companion book. I’d love to set a book (preferably a murder mystery) against the background of the Great Trig, which was also used in Kipling’s KIM.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Trigonometric_Survey

    Reply
  47. And I forgot some of the excellent works on technology for the non-mechanical-minded: James Burke’s CONNECTIONS TV series and their companion books, as well as THE DAY THE UNIVERSE CHANGED; and a wonderful series on the history of mapping: THE SHAPE OF THE WORLD. I don’t think there’s a video version, but I have the companion book. I’d love to set a book (preferably a murder mystery) against the background of the Great Trig, which was also used in Kipling’s KIM.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Trigonometric_Survey

    Reply
  48. And I forgot some of the excellent works on technology for the non-mechanical-minded: James Burke’s CONNECTIONS TV series and their companion books, as well as THE DAY THE UNIVERSE CHANGED; and a wonderful series on the history of mapping: THE SHAPE OF THE WORLD. I don’t think there’s a video version, but I have the companion book. I’d love to set a book (preferably a murder mystery) against the background of the Great Trig, which was also used in Kipling’s KIM.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Trigonometric_Survey

    Reply
  49. And I forgot some of the excellent works on technology for the non-mechanical-minded: James Burke’s CONNECTIONS TV series and their companion books, as well as THE DAY THE UNIVERSE CHANGED; and a wonderful series on the history of mapping: THE SHAPE OF THE WORLD. I don’t think there’s a video version, but I have the companion book. I’d love to set a book (preferably a murder mystery) against the background of the Great Trig, which was also used in Kipling’s KIM.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Trigonometric_Survey

    Reply
  50. And I forgot some of the excellent works on technology for the non-mechanical-minded: James Burke’s CONNECTIONS TV series and their companion books, as well as THE DAY THE UNIVERSE CHANGED; and a wonderful series on the history of mapping: THE SHAPE OF THE WORLD. I don’t think there’s a video version, but I have the companion book. I’d love to set a book (preferably a murder mystery) against the background of the Great Trig, which was also used in Kipling’s KIM.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Trigonometric_Survey

    Reply
  51. I too love the Connections series. I love the backstory. I always thought the Light Brigade were idiots until I found out who was at the top of the hill. I just finished volume 1 of Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle about the founding of the Royal Society. It is the first novel I have ever read that has a full page with Newton’s illustrations of conic sections. Much better than my HS geometry text.

    Reply
  52. I too love the Connections series. I love the backstory. I always thought the Light Brigade were idiots until I found out who was at the top of the hill. I just finished volume 1 of Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle about the founding of the Royal Society. It is the first novel I have ever read that has a full page with Newton’s illustrations of conic sections. Much better than my HS geometry text.

    Reply
  53. I too love the Connections series. I love the backstory. I always thought the Light Brigade were idiots until I found out who was at the top of the hill. I just finished volume 1 of Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle about the founding of the Royal Society. It is the first novel I have ever read that has a full page with Newton’s illustrations of conic sections. Much better than my HS geometry text.

    Reply
  54. I too love the Connections series. I love the backstory. I always thought the Light Brigade were idiots until I found out who was at the top of the hill. I just finished volume 1 of Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle about the founding of the Royal Society. It is the first novel I have ever read that has a full page with Newton’s illustrations of conic sections. Much better than my HS geometry text.

    Reply
  55. I too love the Connections series. I love the backstory. I always thought the Light Brigade were idiots until I found out who was at the top of the hill. I just finished volume 1 of Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle about the founding of the Royal Society. It is the first novel I have ever read that has a full page with Newton’s illustrations of conic sections. Much better than my HS geometry text.

    Reply

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