When asked about what services an editor can offer, it’s easy to explain the doing a copy-edit or correcting grammar. And explaining developmental edit can be done as well.
Brainstorming, however, isn’t something every author does or needs, but it can be part of an editor’s service as well.
For instance, I’ve worked with Jacki Delecki on a number of titles, and one of the things she likes to do is brainstorm at the beginning of the book.
She discusses her basic idea and premise—part of a miniseries, needs some suspense, the basic idea of the characters and then we brainstorm.
Here, she had the idea of doing a winter story, the characters needed to be snowed in together, and it had to tie into the previous series.
She though about doing a connection with a hero who appeared as a character in a previous book, but then how would the heroine get snowbound with a stranger?
So we threw out some ideas and I mentioned I loved Georgette Heyer’s THE CORINTHIAN when Pen climb out of the window and the hero—rather drunk and avoiding his family—sweeps her off and they have an adventure.
Jacki enjoyed the idea of this meeting, and liked the idea of the hero spying the heroine in jodphurs climbing from the window. And then she built on it, with the heroine escaping the French villains mistakenly capturing the heroine instead of her sister.
So I would say a “What if…” and she would say, “No, that won’t work because…” and I’d go “But if you did…” and she’d go “The hero could be…” and I’d say “What if the heroine did….” and Jacki would go, “The Codebreakers need to know….” and after about an hour of going back and forth, she’d had the opening scene, overall plot, sense of the hero, conflicts and such!
And then when writing them, things would change. :)
After that first scene of the heroine climbing out the window, the rest of the story is very different—Pen and Richard are lighthearted, funny, protective, and only in social danger. This novella has Nicholas and Eliza hiding from the French, Eliza hiding her identity from Nicholas, a stronger physical attraction, and an edge of danger.
I love the creativity and possibilities in a brainstorming session. Everything starts out as a potential, as a possibility and then it gets narrowed down into what the author sees working for her and the story. I'm never going to be a writer, but I really enjoy the generating of ideas, working through problems and seeing the final result. It's amazing what can spark an author, and our rambling conversations end with true gems!
If you want to see how the story ended up, check out Jacki’s story and the full collection.