Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Ideas! Ideas! Which Becomes the Next WiP?

 This Week's Topic: Picking and Choosing -- How Do I Decide Which Idea to Write?

I'm feeling a little feisty this morning (no reason for it, just feelin' it), so the smart-ass answer is "the next idea is the next book in the series."

But what if I've finished the series and am pondering what trilogy to begin next? Oooh. Ah. I, uh, um, hmmm... Usually, I pick the story that I can clearly envision from start to finish. I know the main characters; we've had long, intimate discussions in my dreams. The major and minor plot points have arranged themselves in linear escalations of failure and success. The nature of magic and its rules are suitably different from my other works. The only things missing from The Next WiP are the details. 

Hahahaha. {slaps knee} Bought that did you? 

Yeah. I wish. That kind of clarity only happens when I'm in the throes of working on another book. Ya know, at the most inconvenient time. The time when I can't afford to deviate from the current WiP lest I lose the vision and multiple threads I'm weaving to the final climactic moment. When that future book intrudes on a WiP, I jot down as little as I can to assuage my imagination's OOOH SHINY moment, then get back to the project underway. Whiiiiich means that by the time I'm ready to take on a new series, the urge that once accompanied the intrusive idea has faded. 

Unless it hasn't. 

Maybe it's merely mellowed, ripened, and matured. Maybe now, that simmering idea has developed more intriguing aspects, a better magic system, clearer challenges, and more unique characters. Maybe that once intrusive idea has spawned two more robust major plots that then comprise a complete trilogy. Maybe now, I can see the story not as one novel, but as three. Maybe now it really is ready to become the Work In Progress.

Yaaassss. Come to me my precious. Let us jot down the skeletal plots for all three books in the trilogy, then begin the beguine.

I've notebooks filled with OOOH SHINY brain dumps. Before I choose the next series, I flip through my scribbles until one of them jumps up, calling Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter! (if you don't know that reference, get off my lawn!) No, I don't write to trend. I'm far too slow a writer to catch a wave. For me, the next WiP is the one that is fleshed out in my head, the one that has clear plots whose salient points can be bulleted in a short outline, the one that is actually three so I can properly seed and foreshadow as the series arc builds, the one that still makes me curious about the minor twists and the enticing details, the one that still makes me eager to sit down and put the words on the page.