Some ideas have more bounce than others

September 13th, 2015

I find it way too easy to follow the wrong idea when I’m plotting. For the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with ideas for the new series, which has a tentative title of ‘The Lost Brothers series’. I had the core of the idea, and I was working out scene sequences, what the main characters wanted, who the antagonist was, etc, and feeling pretty pleased about how it was going – right up until Friday morning. At which point I fell into a despairing hole, crying, ‘Nooooo. I don’t think this is going to work.’

Now the thing is, all despairing holes are not equal. At some point halfway through a book, a despairing hole is to be expected. (‘Everything I’ve written so far is rubbish.’ ‘I hate this story.’ ‘Why oh why did I ever think I was a writer?’ etc) The only way to deal with it is to climb out and keep writing.

But a despairing hole when I’m in the early stages, like this? Nope. That means something’s wrong. The idea has lost its bounce.

So I went back to the original spark – the thing that had interested me about this story in the first place. And I realised that I’d wandered miles from that spark, all the while telling myself that this story made so much more sense than that story.

I think it’s a question of head vs gut. The original spark – the exciting one – was a gut reaction, a sense of ‘Oooooh, yes, that’s really interesting!’ But then I started thinking too much, being too sensible. And the idea that developed from that sensibleness didn’t have any bounce. When I tried to write a couple of scenes, to get a sense of it, the characters just lay around in feeble heaps, twitching occasionally to show that they were doing their best.

So – it’s back to the original idea for me. I can feel it bouncing around inside me as I type. I just have to keep checking in with my gut to make sure I’m still on track.


7 thoughts on “Some ideas have more bounce than others

  1. Amber-Kate says:

    It’s always good to go back to that spark and come up with some more ideas and get that excitement back, sometimes I ramble of over hundreds of pages and realise that it’s absolute nonsense. What do you do if you have more than one different but great idea and they keep mixing whilst you right, how do you follow that ‘spark’ without getting lost?

    1. Lian says:

      It’s very tricky. Because for every decision you make to write about something, you’re also making a decision not to write about something else. But getting lost can be a good thing – quite often that’s when the best ideas come up. Let yourself get lost every now and again and see what happens. And meanwhile keep writing the other ideas down in a notebook so you don’t lose them.

  2. Amber-Kate says:

    Ok, so you’ve got to let your mind go astray a little so that it can cook up new ideas. Thank you extremely much, you are very good at giving advice 🙂

  3. Chrissie says:

    Dear Lian Tanner,

    I am exceptionally privileged to write to the likes of such a famous author. I have been recently reading your wonderful novel The Keepers: Museum of Thieves and have taken great interest in it. I have thought long and hard on why exactly your trilogy has been such a firm favourite these past few years, wining the 2011 Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award and being translated into German, Turkish, Chinese characters, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Brazilian Portuguese and Bulgarian. To put my message more simply, I will personally give you an insight into my strong opinions of your most international hit series.

    To begin with, Goldie Roth is a mischievous girl who lives in the city of Jewel, where impatience is a sin and boldness is a crime. Luckily Goldie is both bold and impatient. When she escapes the clutch of the Blessed Guardians to the mysterious Museum of Dunt, she meets a nasty boy named Toadspit who becomes one of Goldie’s closest friends. Goldie finds out that only a thief can find their way through its strange, shifting rooms and becomes ever more intrigued to stay.

    Goldie and Toadspit have a talent for thieving and hiding their identities. This is just as well because the treacherous Fugleman has his own plans for the museum – plans that threaten the lives of Goldie and the people she holds dearest to her heart. Toadspit, Olga Ciavolga, Broo and Goldie try their hardest to fend off the Fugleman and his flock of Blessed Guardians to take back the Museum of Dunt.

    It is evident, from my quick recap of the novel that your style and layout is pure genius. I find it that this novel is only the beginning to what you can inevitably achieve in future. I wish you all the very best in further endeavours of wherever your writing may take you. I bid you good bye and certainly hope there is a new series of your novels waiting at a store near me.

    Your Sincerely

    Christine Karabalis

    1. Lian says:

      Dear Christine

      Thanks for your very kind and generous comments. I’m so pleased to hear that you enjoyed Museum of Thieves, and have obviously thought very deeply about it. Thanks too for your good wishes. My second series, The Hidden, is now available in Australia, New Zealand and North America. It begins with ‘Ice Breaker’. If you get the chance to read it, I hope you’ll come back and let me know what you thought of it.

  4. Dear Lian Tanner,

    I appreciate the information you have provided me. I have recently been Christmas shopping and desperately hope ‘The Hidden’ is in my Christmas Stocking. Lately, I have been reading reviews and ratings of The Hidden and am already intrigued. I am sure I will absolutely enjoy it and will leave my thoughts if I am privileged to read it.

    Christine Karabalis

    1. Lian says:

      Hello again, Christine. What a nice message to receive almost on the eve of Christmas. I hope your stocking includes at least the first book in the Hidden series. Merry Christmas!

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