Brainstorming, or is it barnstorming?

Perhaps it should be brainstorming in a barn!

It’s a weird word that describes a process where a bunch of people get together and throw ideas around, though others may have different permutations on what brainstorming is.

Reading through the current blogs sent to my reader, the word ‘brainstorming’ got my attention.

I use it, well, I try to use it.

I’m still working on the YA novel, you know the sort, a far off land where there’s kingdoms, kings, queens, princes and princesses, witches, no dragons and the jury’s still out on a unicorn.

I have three grandchildren, all girls, who wanted me to write a story for them.  Not that thriller stuff, or murder, but what sort of life they’d like to have in they could live in a different world.

Fortunately, both still have an imagination, a prime requisite for them to transition through their childhood to young adult, smoothing out the bumps.  They are avid readers, so I have an untapped source of ideas.

Or so you would think.

This is how it started:  A few years ago I told the eldest, who’s 18 this year, to stop acting like a princess.  She didn’t get the inference because it was an ‘adult’ concept when dealing with children.

What she did say was how she was going to be a princess when she grew up.  I said there were not enough real-life princes to go around, a point she took on board with all the aplomb of as she was then 12-year-old, so it graduated to becoming a princess in a story.

Somehow she ended up with the name Marigold.

She decided Marigold was going to be a haughty, self-indulgent, spoilt brat.  That condescending tone, those flicks of the hair, those sharp put-downs, a princess indeed.   It was as if she had acting lessons from the Disney ‘bad princess’ school of acting.

But …

As all haughty and condescending people do, the princess is taught an invaluable lesson in humility when her Kingdom is invaded, her brother, next in line to the throne, murdered, the king thrown in the dungeons, and her mother put to the sword and left for dead.  She flees the castle and her betrothed prince who is leading the invasion of their Kingdom, and who is now regarded as both unworthy and dangerous, goes after her.

The first few ‘brainstorming’ sessions saw the addition of two sisters (her two real life cousins, one back then who was ten and other six), a healer (another name for a witch as witches are outlawed in her Kingdom), magic spells, and a quest to save her family and the land.

It’s been done before, but this is without the Knight in shining armour, and where a young girl who has never had to fend for herself has to come to grips with a completely alien environment, and the fact none of her companions believe she is going to be of any help whatsoever.

Several sessions later we came up with the quest.

What has surprised me, for a generation of children brought up with video games, endless violence, and the endless pressures on youth these days versus what I had in my day, they have this amazing ability to take a step back and see themselves in such a different light.

I’ve always had an overactive imagination borne from a time where we didn’t have any of the facilities children have these days.  We had to make our own adventures, not live them out on TV and in video games.

I dragged them into my world, and now, together, we have a bond that will never be shaken.  I am the storyteller, they are Marigold, Ophelia and Nerida, princesses.

They are as different as chalk and cheese.  Ophelia wants her own story, the princess who battles against the magic within her.  Nerida has a quite simple aim in life, having been taught swordplay by her brother, she wants to slay a dragon.

The first story is now nearly finished, and at the rate I’m going I’ll be lucky to see it published by her 18th Birthday.

Still, how good would it be to be handed a book that was specially commissioned by, and written for her?

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