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.