The Boomerang Theory — How to Brainstorm Your Way Out of a Corner

Are you planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year but you’re worried you don’t have a deep enough plot to make the 50,000 words?

Or, have you decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year because you are in the middle of writing a novel? Maybe you’re stuck, you feel like something is flat, that you need more content, or deeper subplots. Do you have a few general ideas about something you want to write, but it sounds more like a short story ? How do you beef it up? What’s missing? You don’t want to invest too much time in writing the entire novel if there isn’t enough story to keep your fingers clicking.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? If so, let me make a suggestion:

Check out our guest author Michelle Lim and her new book, Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel

She has a gift for brainstorming. I know this because I’ve met her and asked her questions about my wips (work-in-progress), and she was able to give me plot suggestions in record time. She asked me a few questions about my novel and then gave me a list of possible solutions. (No pressure, Michelle.)

Her mind is a plotting machine. If you’d like to learn one of Michelle’s theories on how to brainstorm your way out of a corner keep reading. 

But first, let me tell you a little about her:

Michelle is a romantic suspense author whose manuscripts have earned recognition in The Rattler Contest 2012, the Genesis Contest 2011, and the Frasier Contest in 2010. Michelle is the Brainstorm/Huddle Coach at My Book Therapy and serves as Vice President of MN N.I.C.E., a local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Check out her blog “Thoughts On Plot” here.

She’s having a giveaway, too. Here’s how you can enter to win:

Contest Details:

For those of you who haven’t heard, during my Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel Tour I’m having a drawing for a Free Kindle Paperwhite. Comment on each different blog I visit during the tour. For each comment you’ll get one entry. Each day I will post new tour locations on my blog. Be sure to visit and comment and I promise you’ll learn great writing tips along the way. The contest is over November 9th. 

MICHELLE’S NanoWrimo Brainstorming Tip:

Many of us are getting ready for NanoWrimo and the challenge to produce large amounts of words each day to write a novel in one month. Brainstorming is an important part of this process. Truth is, most of us get stuck once in a while. Idea Sparking gives specific strategies for building conflict, brainstorming and diagnosing story problems.

When you back yourself into a corner during NanoWrimo, try this tip from my Idea Sparking Book. 


Here is a clip on the Boomerang Strategy in my new book Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel:

“Why did the boomerang catch on? Because it created an unexpected phenomenon, it returned. You can play it alone, too.

The spread of the boomerang into a variety of cultures should give us a hint that people love the unexpected. So, let’s make our plots boomerang.

The moment when you think the boomerang is going one way, it turns around and goes the opposite direction. Right back at you. That is what we need to do with our plots. Avoid the expected outcome of any scene or major plot step.”

 Here’s How:

Step One:  Identify the most common thing a character would do at this point.

Step Two:  Write Four Opposite Actions.

Step Three:  Pick the most unexpected action, or boomerang. (Usually the opposite)

Step Four:  Develop the action into a complete event.

This is just one of many strategies you could try from my new book. Each strategy includes story examples and activities to personalize it to your own story. Brainstorming can lead you out of dead ends and keep the words flowing.

What are writers saying about MICHELLE LIM’s Idea Sparking Book? Read below:

 “Michelle recently helped me brainstorm Silent Night, my new Rock Harbor digital novella coming at the end of next month. Her brainstorming prowess amazed me! I loved her new book, especially the chapter on secrets.” ~Colleen Coble Award Winning Author


Michelle Lim has captured and applied all the powerful My Book Therapy techniques—and more— into this must-have book that guarantees an author the tools to create a riveting and unique story. This resource will be dog-eared, highlighted, and always within reach as I create my stories. ~Susan May Warren, best-selling, award-winning author and founder of My Book Therapy. 

“Michelle encapsulated some workable, practical, yet energizing techniques to help spark that all-important conflict and tension in our stories. I especially appreciated the buffet of ideas that showed how a combination of tips could bring about a tailor-made solution to a lack-luster character, scene, or plot.” ~Cynthia Ruchti Multipublished Author, speaker, and writing instructor.

Click HERE to buy Michelle’s book.

 What Are Your Goals for NaNoWriMo? What tips might you give to others planning to participate in NanoWrimo?







Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address:


  1. My goal for NaNoWriMo this year is to finish 50,000 words. It will be my first win and my first novel. I’ve already had anxiety dreams over it, and a fellow NaNo friend has told me to relax and just have fun. So that’s what I’m trying to do these last two days before the big start. Relax and get ready for FUN.

    • Hi Sarah!
      I’m thrilled that you’re plunging into NaNo. You won’t be sorry.Read Jim’s post last week about the 7 Steps to Writing Fast. It might help you, too. Don’t worry if it’s crap. Keep writing. If you hit a wall, leave it blank and pick it up in another place. I promise you won’t be sorry. It’s crazy fun! Good luck!

    • You can do it, Sarah! The fun of challenging yourself is an adventure. Try trying to beat your own best word count day and take a day off right after. Mix and match how you challenge yourself and you will be at your word count before you know it.

  2. Absolutely love Michelle’s book! I’m using it right now to plot a chapter that I’m stalled on.

    • Thanks, Pat! I need to buy it. Soon! Are you working toward a deadline now that you’re under contract? Congrats again. How exciting!

    • Thanks so much, Pat for the compliment! There is nothing better than hearing my book is helping other writers.

  3. I like the boomerang idea! That helps me a lot.
    I read something recently and would like your opinion. The writer (sorry, can’t remember who) said that when using the unexpected in a plot, it’s good to use coincidences to set up an obstacle for a character, but that it’s rarely good to use coincidences to solve an obstacle. In other words, people will believe a series of bad events but are reluctant to see as credible a series of good, purely coincidental events in a resolution. What are your thoughts on this?
    Thank you for all the good writing tips!

  4. Dan says:

    I’m commenting to get in the drawing…. I could use a Kindle. It would help me to read more of what you write.

    Pick me! Pick me!

  5. Hi Dan!
    I hope you win. That would be cool. You have to visit the other blogs on the tour and comment to increase your chances. Who knows, you might learn something along the way.
    Hugs and THANKS!

Please share your random thoughts.


Thank you for stopping by!