The Argh Novel: Here’s the Plan

So the plan is to brainstorm Surprise Lily (overwhelming preference) and then I’ll write whatever comes out of our brainstorming that week, and then we do it all over again until we get tired and wander off. Brainstorming should be as free form as possible, but we are gonna need some guidelines here.

First a schedule. I’m thinking I put up the new stuff on Mondays, we talk about it all week (we’ll have Working Wednesday and Good Book Thursday in there, too), we do some synthesizing on Friday, inspired by that I write over the weekend, and then we start all over. So Monday is the product of the previous week, and Friday is pulling all the talk from the week together so I have some RMoaGs* to work with.

Then about that week of discussion: No idea is dumb. We’re obviously not going to use everything that people come up with, but the whole point of brainstorming is to think “outside the box” (finger quotes), to inspire each other and not shut anybody down. It’s like improv: We do not say no.

Also, “should” is outlawed. That is, “Well, if we do that, then we should do this next.” Nope. I’m fine with “could” and better with “oooh, oooh, this would be fun,” but Should is out. For example, the first scene (very rough draft) of Lily meeting Nadia should be followed by Lily and Nadia talking. Except we don’t do Should and I don’t want to write that. It’s what everybody would expect.

What we do instead is “want.” I want to write something fun. I have an idea how to get the Lily/Nadia stuff in without writing the Should Scene (never write the Should Scene), but I’ll wait to see what you Want as far as “oooh, oooh, this would be fun.” This is basically another way of saying, “Only write the good parts.” Forget the parts that the reader needs to understand something, she’s going to skim those anyway. Get to the parts she Wants to read, which are probably the parts we want to write. The Want parts.

This is a good time to remind people that I don’t write in chronological order, so I don’t see any reason we should either. This is not brain surgery, we can always go back and add things, change things, fix things, cut things, lengthen things, we can do all of that later. And given my penchant for rewriting, we will. In fact some of those Mondays will be me putting up something we’ve already done and saying, “This needs work” and pinpointing what in it is screwing up the rest of what we’ve got.

And then along the way we’ll have to do the macro stuff. Like:
What is this book about? (Romance? Reincarnation? Dissing Vikings?)
What kind of tone and mood does it have? (Screwball? Suspense? Adventure?)
Who’s the antagonist, the character that creates the conflict for Lily? (Love interest? Somebody at work? Early Viking?)
Is there a love interest? Friends? Family? Community? Team? Dog? (There’s definitely a cat.)
What’s showing up as metaphor and motif? (We’ll do theme when the book is done: we won’t know what we’ve said until we see what we made.)

There’s a lot more, and I’m good with finding out the macro stuff as we go, but at some point, maybe this summer if we go that long and don’t wander off, we’ll have to look at what we’ve got.

But that’s about it as far as a plan. Expect chaos. Creativity thrives in chaos. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last thirty years.

*Really More of a Guideline

27 thoughts on “The Argh Novel: Here’s the Plan

    1. Yes. Up in the Works in Progress section (see menu above) will be a list of links, and I’ll put a link to that page at the end of every Lily post (if I forget, remind me).

  1. Oooh I can’t wait. This is much more fun than my actual work which I’m expected to do from home…

    1. lol. Not only do the bass players get the most boring parts, but they get dissed by the groupies, too.

    2. That sounds like something from the New Yorker’s Borowitz or The Onion. 😆

    3. My partner (pediatrician) is also the bassist in a couple of different bands in town. When I showed this to him, he just shook his head and said, “It’s true.” And we loved that this was from Louisville. Just one more thing to make everybody think we’re all crazy here!

  2. I would like to put in an early vote for comedy (I need funny like I need air right now), screwball if possible. Maybe the Bad Counselor can be the antagonist.

    1. Adding to Deb’s vote, I’d love to see a screwball comedy romance :-). Though with this group, would anything else actually happen?

  3. Maybe the antagonist is BOTH an early Viking and someone at work or elsewhere in Lily’s present life–i.e., maybe that person is also aware of experiences in different eras/lifetimes–but perhaps the mechanism is different. Maybe Lily is remembering different incarnations and the antagonist (who could also turn out to be a good guy/possible love interest/whatever or could be a villain–I’m leaning towards eventually turns-out-to-be-a-good-guy) is a time traveler. And whatever the genre, I vote for tone and mood to be LIGHT-HEARTED. The light-hearted comedy is one of my favorite things about Jenny’s books, whatever the overall mood (like the continually interrupted seance in Maybe This Time ), and I think we all agree we’d like to lighten our hearts these days.

  4. Could we have some kind of crime involved? Capery heisty comedy with paranormal unless that’s too many genres. I’ll be happy with whatever the girls in the basement come up with to be honest.

  5. I love this and am so excited for this to start.

    I also love the idea of “this could be fun” leading into an idea. I plan on using that ALL the time.


    It could be fun if the next scene starts with Nadia talking to her spirit guide and says “Well Lily and I finally met, again.”

    Jenny, thanks for doing this. I feel like this will help keep me sane and keep me laughing.

    1. Auto-correct strikes again. (Stop it, Gary.)

      Could the cat come back as a dog? That adds another level of complexity and something else to explain, but why not? Put it in the mix of ideas.

  6. I can hardly wait. I also would like something lighthearted since life has me vibrating with anxiety right now.

    Do you want us to mention when someone throws out an idea that we particularly like? Or is that too much like voting?

    1. Not voting, “discussing.” Post goes up tomorrow early. Discuss your creative little hearts out.

  7. I LOVE the idea of Nadia and Lily just continuing a discussion they’ve been having for the last few hundreds of years, maybe about the possibility that one of the Vikings was a Good Guy?

  8. “And you’re still holding a grudge for something I did three lifetimes ago!”

    Just thought how frustrated current day Viking would get with her baggage 🙂

    1. One of my favorite bits from Doctor Who was River Song walking up to the Doctor and slapping him hard. He said, calmly, “Is that for something I haven’t done yet,” and she snapped, “Yes!” and walked off, and he said, “Looking forward to it,” and followed her. Such a great relationship.

  9. I would love to see some modern day Viking type working at IKEA. And maybe owning a Norwegian forest cat (which are hugely cute — like small Maine coon cats)?

  10. I love the idea of the best friend animal coming back as something different in every timeline because it could be comedic. What if her goal is to solve something or convince her love interest that time travel/reincarnation is real? (Ultimately so that they can stop the spread of covid?)

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