Brainstorming is a blast!
My middle grade WIP is a time travel story. The protagonist is a 12-year-old boy who’s into rockets and robotics and such, but gets zapped back to the 1830s. There are thefts for which he gets blamed, a ghost who needs to be laid to rest, and the girl helping him gets pulled back to modern times with him.
The manuscript is basically done except for one thing: I would really like to tie his rocket hobby more integrally into the time travel happenings. There’s an item that could easily still be in his pocket when he goes back again, but I couldn’t come up with a good idea of what to do with it.
So I gathered a few writer friends, gave them a run-down on the plot (new for some, refresher for others), and put my dilemma to them. We questioned what the device did, how others would react to it, how it could be used in a particular crisis situation. But after several ideas for that situation, I asked “what else,” and we shifted some of those ideas to a newly-created crisis. It clicked with me. It not only works well there and fits the story, but ties up a plotline more neatly.
So now I can finish the book, setting up this situation and adding the scenes at the end. (Plus re-work the first chapter which we also critiqued that evening, but that’s another story.) And then it’s finally time to query agents and editors–hurray!
If you’ve got a sticking point in your plot, try turning your regular critique time into a brainstorming session instead. Everyone chips in with ideas of what might happen at a certain point, and where it might go from there. Some ideas will seem wacky to you, some will be useable. You may get lucky and a definitive direction will emerge that resonates with you. But if not, and you’re faced with sixteen possible plot directions, remember that it doesn’t matter what the group likes best–it’s up to you to use what you want.