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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Author Insight: Story Sounding Board

Do you bounce your ideas off others before writing or do you play it close to the chest?

"I play it close to the chest. I’m not very good at elevator pitches or explaining my story before it’s written, so I’d rather just let the draft speak for itself." - Lauren Morrill, author of Meant to Be.

"Short stories? All mine unless I run into problems (usually, “Not enough’s happening in this short story—how can I liven it up?”) Novels are different. First draft is entirely private; I might consult on technical details. I might cast about for a bit for some ve-ery general advice before I do the first submittable draft. Once the editors have had a go at that, I go to ground, and mostly don’t consult with anyone much again unless I run into problems, until the next draft’s complete. Repeat that last bit several times. - Margo Lanagan, author of The Brides of Rollrock Island

"I definitely bounce ideas off several people, and then gauge their reaction. Sometimes they will ask a question that makes me consider the idea in a new light, and I’ll go from there." - Dan Krokos, author of False Memory

"I talk with trusted friends and relatives. I'd never post anything online. Bouncing ideas off of others is a great way to force creativity." - Martha Brockenbrough, author of Devine Intervention

"Yes. I have writing partners that I'll talk about things with. But I'm kind of superstitious-- I don't spill the beans until I've got the story at least a little bit in progress. I want to be the first one to know if it's working or not. Sometimes I'm just bad at explaining ideas that aren't fully fleshed out." - Joy Preble, author of Anastasia Forever

"I’ll talk with Cynthia about a project both before I start and while it’s ongoing.  I used to be in a critique group, but found that time demands kept getting in the way.  Beyond that, I don’t usually talk about it until I need outside feedback or it sells." - Greg Leitich Smith, author of Chronal Engine

"I play it super close to the chest in the early stages, otherwise I lose interest." - Kirsten Hubbard, author of Wanderlove.

"I do have a couple trusted writing friends I bounce ideas off of. But I can't really tell if I'm going to 'go' with an idea until I've written a few (usually 30) pages of it and still like it." - Cyn Balog, author of Touched

"Bouncing ideas off people just makes me depressed. The bouncees are never as excited as I am about the idea, and I can never articulate what I think is so great about the idea in a way that makes them as excited as I know they will be once they see the finished product. And yet I still often make the mistake of telling people about my ideas. I’m just too excited about them. I never learn." - Dayna Lorentz, author of No Safety in Numbers

"I rarely bounce. I do not come out of the workshop tradition, didn’t take creative writing classes, so I’m not schooled in the process of listening to outside opinions before the work is finished. I don’t need the validation and I certainly don’t want all that criticism. That said, it can be helpful to find a clever friend to discuss certain kinds of puzzle-type plots – say a mystery or a story with surprising twists and turns. Again, different strokes for different folks." - James Preller, author of Before You Go

"I definitely bounce ideas off others before writing. I can often catch my own plot holes when I talk out loud and if I don’t catch them, my trusted friends do." - Katie McGarry, author of Pushing the Limits

"I’m an introvert. I keep my ideas to myself until I have a draft written. There are so many ‘what ifs’ in a first draft that I prefer to work through this stage on my own, mostly so I don’t get distracted by other peoples’ ‘what ifs’." - Sarah Tregay, author of Love and Leftovers

"One of the huge benefits of a writing team is that we get to bounce our ideas off each other. Writing can be a lonely, agonizing, discouraging process and we’re grateful to have each other. We serve as the other’s sounding board, editor, shoulder to cry on and biggest booster. We don’t generally share our ideas with anyone other than our agent until we’ve written a huge chunk of the book. In our experience, a few lines of description can never really capture an idea, so it’s far better to trust our gut and just start writing." - Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas, co-authors of From What I Remember

Find out Thursday if the other authors talk through their ideas before writing!
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