Wednesday, September 18, 2013
How to Choose Between Shiny New Ideas
I marinate on ideas for a while. I'll jot down notes about characters, plot points, settings, etc. For months now I've been collecting notes for my next project, which I'll probably draft before the end of the year. Everything was running like clockwork until another shiny idea pushed its way into my brain.
It was innocent enough. I was watching a news story on television when BAM! The news story connected with me and I began furiously taking notes. What if? What if? What if? I write contemporary YA, so I look at news events through a story lens.
Other Story Idea was like, Hey, Lady! What about me? I've patiently waited for your attention. I've withstood the weight of layer upon layer of notes as your mind worked through the details. You aren't giving up on me, are you?
No, I'm not giving up on Other Story Idea. I just need to decide which book I want to write first. After all, novels take us a long time to write and revise. How can we trust our gut instinct when deciding which idea to pursue first? Here are some points to consider:
Which idea are you the most passionate about? Does one idea keep you up late at night or wake you early in the morning? Does one idea cause you to scribble notes in an effort to keep up with the idea? We should aim for passion when choosing which story to write.
Who are your readers? Adult women? Men? Teens? Our three sons are teens and I write for teens. Lucky me! I witness first hand what regular teens worry about. I hear about the nuances of friendship and coupledom. When considering what project to pursue next, we should think of future readers. What would they like to read about?
Does one story idea tug at your heart more than the other? This can be coupled with passion, because usually we're passionate about what tugs at our hearts. Family, friendship, first love, space aliens who lost their parents. Half-hearted ideas can grow up to become half-hearted stories. Whatever reaches into your heart will likely reach the hearts of others.
Can you imagine one of the ideas all the way through to the end? Do you have the perfect twist? Organic conflict? I'm a plotter by nature. Although I don't always know exactly what will happen between A and Z, I like to know what A and Z are.
We definitely should not write to a trend, that much we know for sure. But does one of your story ideas seem like it would fit the market better? Is it an idea that hasn't been tackled with fiction, and you see an opening? Has it been written from the adult POV but not yet a teen's? Is it a new concern that modern times has created?
Another option is to combine ideas into one story. I doubt this will work in my case this time around, but it's definitely something to consider. Maybe one could be the main plot thread and the other a sub plot. Maybe one character can lead the story while the other is a wingman.
For now, I have two stacks of notes going. I'm not pressuring myself to decide which project I'll write next. I'm tossing ideas around and gauging my own heart.
Do you ever have more than one idea demanding attention? How do you decide which book to write next?