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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ideas Are Everywhere

One of the questions writers get frequently is where do we get our ideas. It leaves most of us foundering--especially at first--because story ideas are everywhere and we've always had them. I can remember when I was six and I played out elaborate story scenarios with my Barbie dolls. I've solved how to answer this question by talking about where I got the idea for one or two of my stories.

Anyway, the takeaway here is that ideas come easily for writers and the men (they always seem to be men) who come up to writers at signings and say: Hey, I have this great idea for a book. I'll let you write and you can keep 50% of the royalties: clearly think the idea is the hard part.

It's not. The hard part is taking the idea and making it work for an entire story.

The first issue a writer has to deal with is if an idea is strong enough to make a story. This is partly instinct and partly experience. As an example, I had the idea for Deke being trapped in the cartoon for ten years before I wrote In the Midnight Hour. Why? Because I knew that by itself wasn't going to make a full story. It wasn't until Ryne (his heroine) showed up and told me her story that it was something that could be written.

The second issue is whether or not the idea is marketable. If you want lots of people to read your book, you have to have a story premise they find interesting and this is true even if you self-publish. If you don't care about this, disregard this one.

The idea has to hold up for the entire length of the story, and if you're writing single title, we're talking 100,000 words. That's a lot of pages. I've had ideas that I knew wouldn't have the legs to go that long which is why I've written some novellas for ebook. Demon Kissed for example, had a premise I loved--A demon slayer is tried in absentia by the demons and found guilty of murder--but I also knew it wouldn't make it 100,000 or even 70,000 words. It was, however, perfect for Nocturne Bites.

The idea has to keep the writer excited for 100,000 words. Or however long the story goes. I had an idea for a Science Fiction action/adventure series, but I knew I didn't want to spend 5 years of my life working on it. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It's still sitting on my hard drive and I think this is a good thing. It's my opinion that readers can tell when an author isn't excited about her story and is just going through the motions.

To sum up, ideas are easy, making them into books is hard work.