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Who is your sounding board?


Perhaps this doesn't apply to everyone, but at least for me journals, margin notes, outlines and idea webs can only carry my thought processes so far. Sooner or later I need to explain it to someone else. Sometimes it's for a new perspective or just fresh eyes to find things I missed, but just as often it's because I tend to come at my own thoughts sideways and need to articulate it to someone to force it into a legible shape.

Of course, such a person isn't always available. I can't just blurt it out to anyone. It needs to be someone who would understand and care about whatever it is I'm rambling on about. And that I don't want to spoil the project for. So I can't, for example, discuss with one of the players in a game I'm running my ideas for the next story arc, and I probably shouldn't start a thread on a relevant message board (hi!) in order to just blurt my writing notes out in public without any actual point to make.

Anyone else face a similar conundrum? If so, what do you usually do about it?


My husband. We are both huge SFF fans and have many of the same favorite books. (We actually met because of our mutual love of The Lord of the Rings.) Though as we've aged our tastes have been refined in somewhat different directions. He's also very intelligent and philosophical and after 16 years of marriage together we have become able to communicate and think on the same wavelength easily. This makes him perfect for discussing ideas with. We will have long discussions where I will start out with a hazy idea and he will ask nuanced questions and suggest different points of view that I haven't thought of yet and so during the process my ideas will be fleshed out and refined into something greater than I could have come up with by myself. Almost to the point where I feel I should credit him as a co-author if I ever get anything published! :)


My sisters, I guess. But one reads my stuff just to get me to stop bugging her, and the other doesn't really know enough about writing to provide much useful feedback. That's kind of why I joined this forum. I wanted better feedback and help with ideas.
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A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
I'm really lucky to be one of a three-person writing team. One is my wife of 28 years and the other is a young lady we met here on Scribes several years ago. To be honest, without the two of them I probably couldn't function creatively to draft anything. I'd just sit in a corner and gibber with half-filled notecards. But they keep me focused and keep me writing and we produce beautiful books together. My wife even brings me snacks! lol
I suggest finding fellow Scribes here that you might be able share ideas with that aren't part of the other group for which you are writing. Maybe, connect with other gamers far away who might be willing to critique your work in context? They aren't directly involved with your inner circle, but would be more familiar with the characters/ universe than the average beta reader. I've had very productive sessions here on Mythic Scribes when I get stuck on something, or need a thought-exercise. Or, more often, an excursion down the rabbit hole.

As for a full-throttle sounding board, I will probably solicit friends to read a smoothed out first draft.
( Hard copies, double spaced, so they can scribble notes all over it. ) Sometimes, we just end up having interesting random conversations that aren't even remotely related to my WIP, but are inspiring nevertheless.

I usually don't share my stories once I'm past the brain storming stages and thoroughly into outlines.
By the time I've made a 'first draft' I'm usually very happy with my work. The sounding board is then a review of sorts, to make sure the reader is hitting the same (or different marks) as I have anticipated. Especially with this WIP. There's a lot of plot / character twists and WTFs in the works.

As a lot of my friends are also artists, I sometimes ask them to do (very rough) sketches of people and places described, to make sure I'm communicating my ideas effectively. Especially some of the more important sites. If I'm trying to describe an open box and they keep drawing a solid circle, something went wrong and I need to fix it.
I'm kinda alone in the world in that sense. Lol.

Sometimes i talk to my friend about stuff. He is no writer, but he did program a simulation of shooting crossbow bolts at dragons from city walls to work out the plausibility.