Friday, June 1, 2012

16 solutions when you're stuck

For a while, I've been a proponent of a brainstorming technique called 16 Solutions. I first heard about it from a member of my Women and Money group, how if you brainstorm 16 solutions to any problem, you can get beyond the first few obvious ideas into possibilities that are wackier and more creative. I've been feeling very stuck around my novel and how to weave the parts of the story together. I've been waiting for inspiration, for the muse to pop that perfect idea into my head, and she or he has not been forthcoming.

So this morning at Writing Friday, I went outside to the terrace table (one of our first warm-enough-to-sit-outside days) and sat with my notebook and just kept thinking up ideas. What if I dropped the kid from the beginning? Or what if there wasn't a mystery around the kid? What if Frankie's birth father came back into the picture? What if her mother was dead? What if her sister was on the lam from the mob and hiding out in her mother's trailer? What if her mother left a series of revealing diaries? What if the beginning of the story as it now stands was the ending? If that was the case, which of the three stories would make a good beginning? How would the story work with each of them as the beginning and what would have to change?

This spun me out into a whole sequence of questions that I had shelved to the back of my mind. What purpose does the boy serve in the story? What other purposes could he serve? Do I need a mystery to solve at all? Can the story handle two mysteries? And suddenly the book felt alive with possibility again rather than bound by where I had been. So if you've been stuck in your creative work, give the 16 solutions a try.

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