Friday 22nd May 2020
Ideas are weird beasts.
I’m in the process of coming up with a range of ideas. Whilst I’ve got a lot of existing ones I’ve not yet used, I’m in the process of putting some entirely new ideas together.
For me ideas can come in one of four varieties: Aesthetic, Character, Scene, or Plot
Aesthetic is the setting, particularly in fantasy. Is this world traditionally medieval inspired, or a Georgian-inspired flintlocke fantasy? or something else?
Character can be a fully fleshed out character with voice and look, or just an idea that I want to write a plucky teenager or little old lady.
A scene could be a snippet of a story. It could take the form of dialogue between characters or a static scene like someone had illustrated something from a chapter.
Plot is usually just bare bones to start with, and more like a movie logline – Jurassic Park in Space, The Mandalorian meets Kill Bill, etc.
Sometimes one idea will lead into another – e.g. a scene will create a character – but other times they’re just very standalone.
For example, I have two aesthetics I want to write in the future. I have no idea how I want to use them yet.
I’m also very conscious of career here. I’d love to write a Nolan-inspired modern day SF mind fuck… but my heart is with fantasy so I don’t want to be saddled with being a writer I’m not, and then have publishing houses saying they want more SF when I want to do fantasy.
I’ll either leave those ideas until much later in my career, or I’ll ask myself if there’s a way I can do these in a fantasy setting. Even then, I want to make sure if a publisher says “more like that” my other ideas are not so far removed that they get excluded from the discussion.
I love mashups. I want robots in fantasy, magic in space opera. That can be a hard sell commercially, so for me the challenge and fun is finding a way I can do these things without taking it too far.
Publishers also like series. I’ve got several multiple book series ideas, but for this round I’d like to do something really stand alone.
My ideas are a bit like LEGO bricks, some come already connected, others are single bricks.
As I put an story together, I effectively try sticking bricks together. I’d pretty much argue that a good writer could take whatever bricks they were given and make a story out of it… but the real trick is to find the combination that really excites you personally. After all, this is going to be a year long (or more!) project and so you need to have enthusiasm for it.
I get easily bored which is both a blessing and a curse. It does mean I know when I’m onto a good idea.
It takes me a while to put things together. Pulling ideas together into a novel can take weeks usually. I’d like to be quicker at that.
Also, I’m developing a bunch of ideas at the same time currently, and that’s weird. Ordinarily, I’d be taking one idea and pulling at it, rather than doing multiple ones simultaneously.
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