writing

New Ideas

So, it seems people do read my blog. Thanks to those of you who spoke up. I find that writing a post is a good warm-up exercise for the day that gets me in a mindset to write, and if there are people who find it interesting, that’s a bonus.

I’ve been in idea development mode the past week or so. I got invited to submit some possible ideas for a different kind of opportunity that I don’t want to talk about until it’s more concrete. I had a couple of things in the “projects in need of a good home” file that either needed a synopsis written and some fleshing out or a few pages written, but neither of them were in the subgenres I’m known for. I wanted to have at least one more thing to submit, and I thought it should probably be something contemporary, but I haven’t been coming up with contemporary ideas in a long time. Then a week or so ago, I found myself thinking of an incident that once happened to me, and for the first time, I realized that it could have been something that happened in a story if it had happened in a different time and place, and then I realized that it could still happen in that time and place and be the start of a story. From there it started snowballing.

A lot of it was stuff I suddenly just knew about the story — why the character was in that situation, where she was going, where she’d been. Who the other person was. What was going on. Other stuff had to be developed or teased out of the idea. I found a reference book and started flipping through it, and that gave me a good idea for a major thing that was happening. Yesterday, I started digging into details, and I was able to write most of a synopsis. As is the norm for me, it gets hazier the farther I get into it. I know extensive details about the backstory and opening scenes that get the story started, and it gets less detailed the deeper into the story I get. There may be more detail for one or two big scenes in the middle. As we get to the climax of the story, the synopsis is essentially “and then stuff happens.” I don’t think I need much more than that at this point, though if they like this idea, I’ll then probably have to develop it in more depth before it gets signed off on formally.

But this is a lot for me to be able to do in a little more than a week. Usually, my best ideas have a long gestation period, during which I do research, think about them, try not to think about them and only deal with them when they pop up. When I get Shiny New Idea Syndrome, it’s usually when I’m in the middle of something else. I’ve learned that the Shiny New Idea will fizzle if I just drop everything to work on it because it’s not ready. The best thing to do is to just write down everything I know about it, which usually tells me that there’s not enough to make a book yet. Then I can set it aside and let it develop more.

In this case, though, I needed a new idea, and I needed one like that. Instead of realizing that I don’t have enough for a book, I’ve found that the idea is growing and developing. I’m not sure I could sit down and make this a novel right now. It would take more thought and planning. But I’m at about the stage I’d usually be after a few months of thinking and a month or so of development work. I think that’s a good sign for this idea. If it isn’t picked for this particular thing, it’s still worth developing to see where I could go with it, though it would have to get in line behind all the other things I’m working on.

And speaking of work, back to finishing that synopsis and then trying to write a few pages to get a sense of the voice. It’s a short work day because children’s choir starts again tonight. I can only imagine how hyper they’ll be after the winter break. Today’s supposed to be reasonably warm, so maybe they’ll have had recess at school. I just hope no one shows up with the flu. It’s really running rampant around here right now.

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