I have a new hero (er)

Okay, so you know how I'm a huge Nathan Bransford stalker fan? If you don't know, link here for proof - yes, I'm Erica)

Okay, so you know I'm not a stalker, right? I mean, I only watch, I don't, er, stalk. And I'm barely a fan, I mean, I don't, like, know where he lives or what his favorite color is or what he looks like standing next to a surfboard or anything.


Fine. It isn't a secret. I have admired Nathan Bransford for over a year. And today, he became the hero I always knew he could be. Laugh quietly and listen up. :)

Here is my link to his blog so no one can say I plagarized this because I'm being totally obvious that I cut and pasted (click here for proof):

This is how Nathan Bransford brainstormed Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow (click above to read the whole post, but this is the part I'm talking about now):

The idea for JACOB WONDERBAR started as an image of a kid trapped on a planet full of substitute teachers, and I let that basic idea guide the entire rest of the process. The idea felt middle grade, so okay, I was going to write a middle grade novel. How did the kid get to space? Well, he'd need a spaceship. How did he get the spaceship? Maybe he traded a corndog for it. Maybe his best friends tagged along, and maybe they accidentally hit a huge stumbling block on the way that was making it really difficult to get back home. Maybe that stumbling block was breaking the universe, and maybe there's more keeping him in space than breaking the universe, maybe the kid thinks he could find his dad while he's there.

And so, I (this is erica again) started thinking - I'm working on an MG. It isn't anything like Jacob Wonderbar, but this process could work for me. I've been stuck for months on a major plot point that keeps going nowhere. Then it hit me.


Well, let me tell you wnbwd (okay, this is getting out of hand), I mean what I should do. Take NB's post and do a little brainstorming me-self. Here's what I got (and yes, I'm unstuck - for now)!

The idea for Coyote Hotel started as an image of a kid living in a haunted bed and breakfast, and I let that basic idea guide the entire rest of the process. The idea felt middle grade, so okay, I was going to write a middle grade novel. How did the ghosts get there? Well, they'd need a vessel - haunted furniture. How did the kid get the furniture? Some shady guy sold it to the kid's parents in order to get it out of his own house. Maybe the mc's best friend tagged along, and maybe they accidentally invited an entire TV crew to show the world what was wrong with his house, even though his parents had no idea about any of it. Maybe the worst thing that could happen is making even more ghosts show up, and this time, mean ones. Maybe there's even more to those weird guys who are videotaping his house and now he has to protect his family, too.

Will I ever pitch it this way? No, of course not!! Even NB didn't pitch JW this way again, for proof, click here.

But hey, I needed a kick in the rear and I got it. Thanks again, NB!! yes, I get to call him NB, stop looking at me like that 

How do you get unstuck (you know, in case I, um, *cough* ever need to pass the advice on?)  also, if you steal my idea, could you please send me the completed ms? #pleasethanksbye.


  1. What a great process. Questions often lead to answers.

    Good luck with your WIP, which sounds like a lot of fun.

    (Psssst, orange.)

  2. I'm a fan too. And I've loved his posts on Jacob Wonderbar can't wait to read it. I get unstuck by making lists of everything that could possibly happen until I find the right one. :)

  3. I go for a run. Something about the increased fresh blood flow to my brain (or heart) seems to help stimulate the ideas. This works for blog posts, too. Both today's and Wednesday's came to me while running. Only problem was I couldn't remember today's until I jumped in the shower. Okay, what is it with me and ideas that come when I don't have pen and paper? ;)

  4. LOL! You are very funny and I'm happy to have found this blog! I think (sometimes while sitting in the bathtub, sometimes at my desk with paper and pen) about the MC's goal and motivation, and what would be the conflict. Everything else stems from those 3 things.

  5. That's an awesome process! I think a lot of us would benefit from that process- kinda going backwards on how your mc ended up where he/she is at.

  6. Wow! Very cool process! Never thought about it like that.

  7. Great way to get unstuck, Erica! I'm a big NB fan, too. Loved his whole week of posts last week. This was a terrific one and see, sharing process really does help.

  8. im so glad you went with this for today's post, erica. i love this process and WILL try it for myself. i am also now chanting: goal, motivation, confict. goal, motivation, conflict. c

  9. Ha! I love this. And we're all a little bit stalker-ish when it comes to NB. Hey, the guys knows his stuff. I think your book sounds like a blast. I have 11 year olds, and they would looooove that story.

    BTW, I got PULL OF GRAVITY in the mail today. Thanks so much! I'm reading WATER FOR ELEPHANTS right now, but this one is next. *hugs*

  10. Thanks for the encouragement everyone! I've played around with the importance of the reality TV guys for awhile and with this process, I figured out it wasn't their profession that was tripping me up - it was the characters themselves. Once I did this, I figured out there's more to them than meets (even my) eye.


  11. All those "maybes" reminded me of my own "aha!" moment for getting unstuck - asking a bunch of what if questions! So I had a sort of conventional magical amulet story. they've been around since Wagner's ring or probably a lot earlier than that. What if it wasn't the amulet itself that was magical, but what was inside of it? Still convention. What if... what if it wasn't just one thing inside, but two? What if those two things were at odds with each other, which sort of nullifies any useful magic you can get out of the amulet??? SO MUCH FUN!!!! I love the "maybe" or "what if" questions!

    And oh, by the way, there is a whole CORNDOG CULT associated with NB now (you aren't the only adoring stalker!!!!). I keep forgetting to put the button on my blog, but you can find it on Susan Kaye Quinn's blog http://ink-spells.blogspot.com and lots of other blogs too.

  12. oh, sheesh. Et tu, brute? I think we ALL use this process whether we sit and spell it out or not. I mean, that's basically how I plotted out Cheveux Roux, which is now just ROUGE and out on sub.

    YOU are a great writer and brainstormer. YOU have a great story to tell, and you will tell it! Who cares what NB does?!

    I'm sorry. Why does he irritate me so much? I'm sure he's a nice enough guy... maybe.

    I think I've been sorting too much public feedback on changing the uniform policy. It's made me grumpy~ :D LOL! You're awesome. Glad you found that kick in the pants. xoxo

  13. Nathan Bransford is my hero too, even though I couldn't tell you how many places he's visited, or what color socks he wears, or what he eats for dinner. Love this post!

  14. Nathan is super cool! That's great that he got you back into brainstorming mode. And Coyote Hotel sounds awesome :)

  15. NB has helped so many people, I guess we can add one more to the list!! I'm an NB fan as well, as you can tell by the Cult of Bransford corn dog on my sidebar (which you are welcome to steal - the more the merrier!). Congrats on your breakthrough!! :)

  16. Nathan is pretty awesome! His advice has helped me many times. When I'm stuck I turn to my friends and brainstorm. Always works!

  17. I know you've been a fan of his for some time.

    Congrats on the breakthrough!

    I'm finally back in Chicago. I arrive yesterday in the cold, GRAY, mist. I felt like I had never left. But today the sun shined and it was warm and beautiful. Just temporary from what I see.

    I looked so DARK next to all the super white faces today. Several people commented. Funny.

  18. WWNBD. Love it!

    I'm a huge NB stalker--er--fan as well. And I love the idea for your novel. It sounds like a lot of fun!


Stay and chat with us! Share your thoughts.