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Pin the Heart on the Problem

List the issues raised and then use “Why …?” to narrow in on the heart of the problem.




Applying Feedback


20 minutes


Pin the Heart on the Problem

As an Inventor, ideas are your jam. When others offer you an idea, you often resist using it because using someone else’s thought can feel like cheating. For this reason, feedback sessions often turn into a tug of war for you. Someone wants you to change your ideas, and you don’t feel like using the suggestions they’re pushing on you.

What’s happening when someone tells you to cut a particular character, or suggests that someone take a different action in your story? They’re not saying they don’t like your ideas. They’re not saying their ideas are better than yours. They’re trying to tell you that something is amiss.

In this activity, we’ll use a series of “Why …?” questions to get to the heart of what feedback means. Then, you can put that idea generating genius of yours to work on a solution that feels creative, exciting, and fitting to you.




How to Play

  • Post-it notes
  • Paper
  • Pen

NOTE: Once you receive feedback, you may choose to process it with a collaborator, or to take it to a quiet place where you can think it through. Both approaches can be effective as part of your Cafe toolbox.


1. Review the feedback you received. You may have your own notes, written thoughts from someone else, or you might be quickly jotting down feedback you just heard.

2. For each issue raised, ask yourself “Why is this a problem?”

3. If you can identify a clear problem (such as, x character is distracting) list that problem on a post-it. Create whimsical titles for each issue listed. The issue might become “X character hogs the spotlight for no good reason.”

4. If you can’t identify a clear problem, list the issue as a question. “Why doesn’t x like x character?” Once your list is complete, the answer to your question is likely to become more clear.

5. Look over your post-its and sort the problems in an order that makes sense to you. You might see character problems, setting problems, tone problems, tension problems, clarity problems, etc. Stick your related post-its on one page together, and title the page with the overarching problem.

6. Choose one paper as your starting point, and brainstorm solutions for the overarching problem, or for each individual one. Consider inviting a collaborator to a brainstorming session to turn the idea-generation process into a game!

Try On Other Creative Styles

Scramble and Sort


After collecting feedback, scramble and sort it into new categories so the group can help the writer choose a starting place for a revision.

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The Question Queue


Line up your questions and address them one by one in this structured revision approach.

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And Down the Stretch they Come


Choose the frontrunner issues and tackle them head-on with a quick-listing exercise.

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