For several years a close friend of mine--often identified here as Plot Monkey--helped me plot some of my short stories.
Her help began over a dinner conversation where I described a pair of stories that seemed to have dead-ended halfway through the writing process. I told her what I had written to that point, she thought about it for a moment, and then she outlined in detail how each story should proceed. She was right. I sold both stories using her ideas to finish what I had already started.
Since then she has helped me plot my way out of several deadened stories and has, on occasion, provided complete story plots that I've used.
Throughout much of the time I have known her, and especially once I learned of her gift for plotting, I have encouraged her to write her own stories. She finally has.
Though it took more than a year, Plot Monkey worked her way through several drafts of a short story until she felt satisfied that it was the best it could be. Yesterday she submitted it to an editor.
Then I gave her one of the most cliched pieces of advice any writer will ever give another: Forget about that story and start writing the next one.
I hope she has.
Plot Monkey has evolved and now she's one of us. She's a writer.