The topic this week is how we decide what’s a good idea to pursue when we’re ready to write a new book or story.
First I’d have to define what ‘good’ means to me in this context because as others have said, I have ideas ALL the time. Plot bunnies abound everywhere. I have a dream, or read the news or someone tells me a funny anecdote from their own daily life or I’m perusing a magazine at the dentist’s office and WOW POP ZOWIE, there’s the kernel of a great idea. Typically I scribble down enough notes on it to remind myself later what I’d thought was so cool and stuff it into a bulging purple folder of similar ideas. If the thought prompt was for a nifty detail inside some other story I’ve already been playing around with telling, then I’ll give it a cryptic label. As an example, for literally years I collected details for a story about an interstellar fashion designer, which I eventually wrote (Star Survivor). I probably didn’t use 1/100th of the stuff I’d collected but it all built up in my head over time to give me a picture of the world she lived in and what I might write about her.
I still have notes from junior high school actually, relevant to the series I was doing then, which had a vaguely Tom Corbett Space Cadet feel to it, but with romance. I’m not planning to pursue those plot bunnies any further though!
That does point up the problem I have, which is when I’m feeling motivated and energized to tell a new story, it’s rarely something drawn from all those files stored in the spare room. More often my Muse is attracted to a shiny new idea and off I go to write that story.
With that background established, what qualifies as a ‘good’ idea to me is one that makes me excited to sit and write, to tell the story. I have energy for the situation and the characters and I can’t wait to get those words on the paper (by typing into the laptop) and share the tale with my readers.
That’s it. My sole criteria. Does this idea have kinetic force for me and spark the irresistible urge to spin a story?
If yes, then hey, Houston, we’re go to launch the writing process.
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