I’ve had a lot of ideas flying around lately, but not all of them are that great. Often times I find myself writing out some of my ideas only to almost immediately hit a road block. Then when I look over it again, I don’t know what I was thinking when I started writing. I don’t know how those thoughts could have ever made a good story. How do you know what to write and what will work? Do you have any tricks for figuring out which ideas would work in your head and then translate well to paper or is it just trial and error?
Oh Mark, you’ve just touched on the very folly that had felled many a good writer. Everyone has ideas, but not everyone can adequately translate them into writing. Other people can write really well, but there ideas are few and far in between. I think the key here is not to necessarily write out every idea that pops into your head, or if you do, just jot down the idea as a side note. Don’t try to turn everything single idea you have into one story. Trust me, it won’t work.
I personally can’t tell you how many scraps of paper I have at home with character descriptions, plot devices, and descriptions of fictional lands written on them. The trick is to keep a library of them tucked aside for later. I can honestly tell you that I only have one book written that was 100% an on the spot creation. Everything else I’ve written was a mix and mash of plot devices and characters that I had tucked away.
Think of it like this… when each of us were younger, for the most part, our parents bought us puzzles to help us build our cognitive skills. Early on, those puzzles usually had a back board that we could slip those pieces into so that the puzzle could be done on a carpet and was easy to put away. I want you to consider that back board your plot. When you come up with an idea for a story, that’s the back board without any of the puzzle pieces on it.
The next part of the project would be to take those plot devices you thought up previously, say a magic sword, a crystal, or something like that, select the ones that you think would work, and incorporate them. Do the same thing with the characters, pick a few characters out of the library you created and see how well they’d mesh together, compliment each other, or feed off each other. Then you can incorporate them and create a relationship, be it love, friendship, love/hate, hate, etc.
In summation, don’t try to turn all of your ideas into a story. Write them down, but keep them aside until you get one really good idea that you’re enthusiastic about, then add in the other ideas you came up with as other details. You’ll have your story written before you know it.
Thanks friend, and good luck.
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