Yep, it's blog chain time again. Terri asked a question similar -- yet different -- from Elana's question about getting out of a writing funk. While some of the other blog chainers are tackling that question, I'm going to go with the alternative one:
Do you brainstorm with a friend when you are plotting, or do you prefer to be the only one who knows what your characters are going to do?
It's kind of funny the way Terri worded her question: "...do you prefer to be the only one who knows what your characters are going to do?" I generally don't know what my characters are going to do until they do it -- that's the problem! *grin*
I only recently discovered the magic of brainstorming with buddies. (Or...most likely in all actuality torturing said buddies with my confusion and indecision.)
It's hard for me to talk about where I'm going with a novel, because if I talk in any detail about something I haven't written yet, I can't write it. The magic is just...gone. But I tried writing up to the point at which I got stuck and then hurling myself on my friends' mercy during NaNoWriMo, and it was helpful. My favorite was when people would just start extrapolating from what had happened so far in my novel. "What if this happened next?" "What if that got in the way?" Anything that forces me out of my mental set (ie my normal way of thinking) is welcome. In fact, I kept wishing people would extrapolate more wildly and really jar me.
I view being stuck as an inability to see options for my story when options always exist. Thanks to my thinking patterns (which normally work for me), I have trouble seeing alternatives for my characters -- perhaps because many of those alternatives are actions that I, personally, might never take. I see brainstorming buddies as people with different perspectives and approaches and blind spots, and my hope is that they will show me different possibilities and open my eyes to fresh alternatives. Once I've been pushed out of my mental set, the wheels usually start turning.
I'm curious, dear reader -- what kinds of things do your brainstorming buddies do to jar you out of your stuckness? What is most helpful to you?