Are you the type of writer who has ideas bombarding you all the time for different stories and you have no idea which to write next? Well this videos for you.
Over the past few years I have been ghostwriting along with my regular contracted projects and it was always inevitable that I was in the middle of a project or a deadline and I had all these ideas for new books. At that time, I always had the urge to drop everything that I was doing and get started on that new and shiny project.
This might not be your exact situation, but you may have many ideas for novels, or short stories, or any writing project, and you have no idea which to write next, I have some tips that have worked for me over the years when it finally came time to pick my new project and stick with it until the very end.
Tip #1: Write down the ideas
Whether it's a character, premise, logline, dream, whatever. Jot it down on a piece of paper, or on your phone, or in a special document on your computer. But make sure this is a quick note. We are just jotting down the idea right now. We're not going to write the book at this moment yet.
This has helped me so much when I'm in the middle of a project. Getting that spark of an idea down gives me a little relief and makes me realize that I'm not going to forget the idea if I don't write it all at once. Then I'm free to continue doing what I'm supposed to be doing.
Tip #2: Let the idea(s) marinate
Let the idea sit for a little while, so that your mind is able to work sort of subconsciously on the idea while you are doing other things. Now there's no strict timeline on this. I've never put a specific time on it for my own projects. It's more of: I get the idea down, I do what I'm supposed to be doing, and when I'm ready for those ideas they will be there waiting for me.
But for me. I would say longer is better. Giving my mind time to work out all of the intricacies of the idea will help make that story a lot stronger.
So now you have your ideas written down somewhere, and you've let them marinate for a bit, now you're ready to jump in and write that next project.
So now what?
There are some important questions I like to ask myself prior to picking one of my ideas. With the idea list in front of me, I ask myself one by one: Am I excited to write this story?
It should be a yes, if not, you may need more time to marinate on this story. You can leave it in your document, or on that piece of paper and move on. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. This story may still come to you later on.
But with this question, you're able to hone in on the story ideas that you really want to write.
The next question I like to ask myself is: what type of story do I want to write?
Whether it's a novel, a novella, a short story flash fiction, or even a series. Not every idea that you have will necessarily be novel-length and that's okay, but this is just another way to hone those ideas into sort of what you're looking for in what you want to write next.
Personally, I like to write novels, but if you're someone who likes to write short stories, or flash fiction, or any of those you can look at your ideas a little differently. You may need only a thousand words or 30,000 words for your story, while I like to write upwards of 80,000 words for my novels. And each of the ideas may not stretch that long, so it's definitely an important question to ask.
The next one is: what genre do I want to write?
Now I may be a little different here but I like to write wide. I don't have a specific genre that I always want to write in it. It sort of depends on a lot of factors. The next project that I'm going to hopefully be working on is a young adult thriller that I have been thinking about. I actually fast drafted it in 2017 and I'm completely revamping it so I know that my next story is going to be a thriller.
This may also be a really quick and easy way for you to sift through all of your story ideas and pick the genre that you want to write right now.
Now once you've answered those questions you may have one that story idea that's
just jumping off the page at you, and that's perfect! Good for you! You're ready to move on and write that story.
But what if you're not?
What if you have two or three ideas that are jumping out to you and you have no idea which to choose next? Now, we can dig a little deeper. In my process I don't really like to get more than three ideas at this point. It gets a little confusing, and I may need to go back to those other questions and take one or two off my list.
After I have two or three ideas ready to go, I like to write a short one-page synopsis for each of the stories. Try not to spend an eternity on this part. The whole point is to sort of brain dump the story for yourself onto the page, so you can actually see the story come to life a little bit. Now this doesn't necessarily have to be the perfect synopsis, because it's not going to an agent or an editor. I mean, it might if you're really good at writing synopsis’, but this is more for you to get those thoughts about the story onto the page.
For this particular part, I'll stick with more of the main story for the one-page synopsis, but I do tell the entire story: the beginning, middle, and end. To make sure I have all of the important bits in my mind ready to go which I can expand upon later.
I like to start with that inciting incident. That spark that really brought the story
into my mind as a story I had to write. I know a lot of people don't like writing synopsis. I mean if you have an eighty thousand word book it's so hard to boil it down just a one-page, but my focus is trying to figure out if there is enough of the story to tell, and if it's still compelling for me to write as it was when I first came up with the idea.
Once you have this one-page synopsis for all of your ideas you should have one story that sort of jumps out at you as the one you should tell next. It really should leap off the page at you, but if not, I would enlist the help of writer friends, or reader friends. Show that person or those people your ideas. The one-page synopsis is especially important here because along with homing in on the idea for yourself, asking someone to take time out of their day to read dozens of pages, versus two or three, is a lot different.
Ask them which story they would want to read. Which one of these stories seems really compelling to them, and see what they say? I find that friends who are voracious readers, or also writers are able to see story a little differently and they may have some insight that you may not see right away. And after all is said and done, you should have one story that's jumping out at you.
I like to make sure this story is one that I am passionate about, and that has enough staying power until the very end. You are going to spend a lot of time with this book with the first draft, revising, editing, more editing, more revising...You get the idea, so make sure it's an idea that you are willing to fight in the trenches for, whether you are going into the query trenches in the traditional publishing path, or you are going to spend a lot of time indie publishing this book, as you will be in charge of this book at every step of the process.
I hope these tips give you some insight to finding out what story you want to write next out of all the ideas in your wonderful brain. If you have any questions about this method, be sure to ask me in the comments below.
And if you still feel intimidated about the one-page synopsis, here’s a link to Publishing Crawl which I reference constantly when it comes to writing a one-page synopsis. Susan Dennard wrote it a few years ago, and it's invaluable to me as a reference for basically every single book that I write.
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