Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How do we shortlist our story idea?

   At any point in a writer’s life, there are several story ideas jostling for place in a writer’s mind. Thank God for the fact that our minds are seldom devoid of story ideas. The muse may be elusive, but the ideas are plenty. I know I am contradicting myself when I make that statement. When I talk about the muse, I am specifically talking of ideas for individual scenes and not general story ideas.

At this point I have three ideas for books fighting it out in my small brain. I am very confused about which one to work on. All three sound wonderful (as do most ideas I have). I started working on one, then another idea accosted me and finally a third shiny idea set up residence inside my tiny mind.

I thought I would do something smart. I started outlining two of the ideas and will work on the third in a few days. There is going to be a basic outline keeping the LOCK (Lead , Obstacle, Confrontation and Knockout in mind) and then there will be a more detailed outline, just so that the story idea does not fade from my mind.

The notebooks I have jotted down the ideas in will be preserved for the future, much like what children’s author Raold Dahl used to do. He would jot down every idea that popped up inside his head and work on it years later. He actually worked on one of the ideas he had jotted down 10 years after the idea first visited him.

I would like to know how you all tackle this problem? What do you all do when several ideas are fighting for your limited time and each idea is demanding your sole attention? How do you all decide which idea is the best to work on? I would love to hear everyone’s opinions as it will help me in tackling the excess ideas menace (I am not grumbling about it, there is a huge smile on my face).


20 comments:

  1. The only thing I can do is pursue the ideas (outlining) until one sticks. Oh, and eating chocolate helps too :)

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  2. Jotting down the ideas , helps:)

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  3. I try to jot ideas down as they come and when I go back to them they usually pop or not.

    mood
    Moody Writing
    @mooderino
    The Funnily Enough

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  4. Good for you for having so many ideas!! Now you have choice...if only you knew which to choose, LoL!

    I have an idea notebook in which I write down all my ideas. I work on the one that appeals to me the most. I may be thinking about more than one idea, but usually one of those is fighting for more thought-time than the others! That's the one I work on.

    Good luck and have fun with your new idea!!

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  5. I just write them down in my notebook and if the time ever comes to work on it, that's what I do. In other words, I wait until it seems like what I want to work on now.

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  6. I post them to a folder on my computer called "Story ideas". I write them the way they are in my head, i.e., maybe just a fragment or paragraph, on a page of "ideas"; or sometimes a whole page with the roughest of outlines as far as where it might go. 9That's a "pantster's" idea of an outline, so you know how rough it is.) And then I just forget about it, unless one of them starts to haunt me. Or, when I finish a book, I comb through the file again to see if something sticks (like Lydia said.)

    BTW, I finally responded to your tag in today's post. Hope you'll check out my seven and give feedback.

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  7. @ Lynda, outlining is indeed helping me zero in on the story I want to work on. I like the chocolate idea too ;)

    @ Rahul, jotting down the ideas is a great method to safeguard the idea against fading from one's memory.

    @ Mooderino, this is the first time so many separate ideas have popped into my mind at the same time.

    @ Laura, I wish I could work on all the 3 story ideas at the same time. I have more or less decided on the one I am going to work on.

    @ Richard, sometimes though the ideas have reached our mind they are just that; vague ideas. The best thing is to jot them down and see if they return with more strength.

    @ Elizabeth, I have put them all in a file with the names of the characters and outlines and also a short blurb.

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  8. I have an idea file and every idea I have goes in there. Sometimes stories develop and sometimes they don't. But that file has a lot of interesting stuff in it, for sure. Usually one idea screams at me that it is the one to pursue. Good luck with yours, Rachna. Sounds as if you have a lot of writing to do with all your good ideas. :-)

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  9. I'd just be happy to have more than one idea fighting for my attention!

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  10. Let me get back to you on this one! I have several ideas, but two major project to handle before I write any new stories. It's so hard to decide!

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  11. I wrestle with this challenge too. Between plot and article and blog post ideas - there are often so many floating around in my head. I try to keep them organized in a notebook, but often they end up getting scribbled here and there. I need to get a better system.

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  12. I totally get this myself. Basically, I ask my wife what she's in the mood to read (based on the options in my head) and I write that. When in doubt, find an audience...and cater to them:)

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  13. Every time an idea pops into my head, I write it down in a file (on the computer). When the time arrives to write a new story, I look over my files, consider the ideas that interest me, and start working out the details of at least one. If I start to get more excited about a concept, I'll probably commit to it and start working out the plot.

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  14. Teh elusive muse is the hardest because it's hard to get a grip on it. You have it but can't cement it. I tend to go with what I feel I need to write first. Some ideas will take more work than others. I tend to write the easiest first. An idea that is challening can be extremely draining mentally.

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  15. when it comes to my blog and I have multiple competing topics in my head, I go with whatever is most relevant to that day and what topic doesn't have an expiry date gets shelved for another day.

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  16. I join notes on stickies, and when I have enough of an idea for a book, I save them in a new folder on the computer. I'm good for a few years now. :D

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  17. I'm not writing stories these days, but your post interested me because I recognise the same dilemma when writing poetry. The difference, I suppose, is that the poem takes less time to write and so I can be more quickly back to try those ideas that I have put aside - in theory, anyway.

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  18. Hi friends, from the comments I can see that all of us keep an Ideas Diary that we can refer to when we want to start a new MS.

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  19. Well, I have a file where I jot down ideas. And sometimes, if a scene really demands to be written, even when I don't know what the story is about, I write it down on a separate file and just label it shortstory1 or 2 or 3. Even if it's not a short story, or if it's a scene that's going nowhere, at least I know I have it. And who knows, like Mr. Dahl, maybe 10 years from now I'll have use of it somewhere. :)

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  20. I'll at least outline the ideas and use bullet points and references, then save them in my Junkyard. I can always revisit the ideas later and plug and play them in another section or another story.

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