Join ACFW |  Forgot Password |  Login: 

October 2012

Reporter: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. VogtVogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Wish You Were Here, her debut novel, released May 2012. Catch a Falling Star releases May 2013. Beth is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, MOPS International’s leadership magazine. Visit her online.

Presenter: Rachel Hauck

Rachel HauckHauck is an award winning, best selling author of twelve novels with more to come. It’s her desire for readers to find hope and escape in the stories she writes, and inhale a bit of the fragrance of Jesus’s love. Rachel is a past president of ACFW and currently serves on the Advisory Board.

Workshop 24 & 29: The Art Of Brainstorming (Parts 1 & 2)

Bestselling author Rachel Hauck is all about not settling—especially when it comes to writing. But how can you avoid settling? In her two-part ACFW conference workshop The Art of Brainstorming Hauck suggested using that technique to find your way to a strong plot by asking “Why?” again and again.

Bowl of ideas“The best question you can ask yourself in any brainstorming or plotting session is ‘Why?’ ” Hauck said. “Fun things (like quirky character traits) are fun things—but why? Ask why. Go a layer deeper.”

Brainstorming guidelines

Hauck, who began brainstorming years ago with best-selling author Susan May Warren, established basic guidelines for a productive brainstorming weekend with three authors, six hours a day, with breaks for meals.

  • Come to the session with an idea (beginning, middle, and end)
  • Have a scribe so that notes are consistent
  • Have a timekeeper so everyone’s story idea can be brainstormed
  • Accept that any idea is a good idea
  • Keep criticism and rejection out of the process
  • Be open to new ideas
  • Ask questions like What do you mean? and How can I do this?
  • Don’t forget the principle of “Good enough.” Brainstorming gets you started so that you can go home and dig deeper.

Brainstorming is about helping someone else develop the story she wants. It’s important to remember that everything you offer (or that you’re offered) during a session is suggestion only.

“Speak up,” Hauck said. “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘That is not my character.’ ”

Know your character

Besides asking Why? Hauck recommends delving into who your hero and heroine are. As a writer, you may start with the basics of who the hero is and what he wants. You might even create a Dark Moment from his past that causes him to believe a Lie about himself, or a Lie about God.

This is where Hauck digs deeper: Why did this wound cause the hero so many problems that I have to write a story about it?

In other words, brainstorm the result of that wound and build your characters off the Wound and the Lie—developing their strengths and weaknesses.

“The story is about overcoming that Wound and the Lie (your characters) believe so that they discover their true identity,” Hauck said.

One of the things she loves to do when brainstorming is to take a normal everyday concept and turn it upside down.

“Maybe your heroine doesn’t believe God loves her. Let’s turn it upside down,” Hauck said. “What if she believes she’s God’s favorite—but He hasn’t given her a destiny?”

Time to write

When she’s developing a new story, Hauck devotes a month to brainstorming and research. “Then time’s up,” she said. “I gotta write!”

Every writer faces the dreaded Internal Editor—but you have to give yourself permission to write awful. “Have fun,” she said. “If we aren’t having fun, why are we here?”

Know yourself

Hauck also believes you have to discover who you are as a writer so you are writing the stories that are you. Ask yourself :

  • What do you love?
  • What movies do you gravitate to? What books? What TV shows?
  • What is your favorite Scripture?
  • What do people say about you—and how does that affect the way you write?

“You are accountable for your time, your words, and your money,” Hauck said. “Write who you are.”

Ideas image courtesy of ponsulak/


back to ezine