This is the second part of my Ideas to Book blog series. (If you missed the first one you can find it here.) The last post dealt with finding an idea that can become a book.
But a single idea really isn't enough to do it, no matter how good that idea might be. So you need more than one. A book is a bunch of ideas that fit together to form a story. Ideas that can feed into each other, and work together to create a compelling world and narrative.
So you have an idea for a character, world, magic, plot trope, or story element, one that lights fire in your imagination and gets you thinking about possibilities. Now what?
I'll use the same example I used in my last post. The idea of my character, Soot, was enough for me to want to write a whole book about her. But 'mechanic space-traveler rebuilding her ship to return to the stars' isn't enough of an idea to write 200,000 words about. Not alone.
So I had to ask myself some questions:
Now you can just answer these questions and go from there. Personally though, that was just too overwhelming. I don't know about you, but nothing is harder than just "answering questions." I tried. I really did. But asking questions is easy, knowing the answers, when the answers are literally limitless and there's no way to know if they're right or wrong, was just too difficult.
So I started looking for more ideas to narrow my search.
Whenever I'm in the beginning stages of a story, I always consult my idea bank. I have a half a dozen boards on pinterest filled with pins of quotes, settings, characters, magic ideas, random images, and bits of dialogue that I use when I need story ideas. I also have pages and pages of scribbled notes and ideas.
I think of what I know about my story in my head (in this case I had my character Soot, space travel, and some sort of steampunk world) and I look for ideas from my boards that can fit with it.
Three main ideas = a novel
I've heard form a couple other authors that 3-4 main ideas is enough to get a book started. I've never really kept track of mine (my first attempts at plotting a story were so convoluted and complicated so it isn't easy to untangle my thought process.) But 3-4 sounds like a good starting place.
Once you have three ideas to work with, it narrows down your story, and you can start answering those questions.
How do you know when it fits?
You don't, really. Not for sure. It's just a feeling.
Really it just takes time and brainstorming and putting things together and trying out new ideas and asking questions. You may end up working with a plot for months before you realize that you have to change something drastic because one of your ideas doesn't fit, which then changes your characters, which changes your setting, which can change your plot again.
There's a reason writing takes a long time. The good news is there's no right or wrong way, and it can take as long as it needs to.
I'd love to hear your ideas about ideas! Is there anything you guys can think of that I've missed or glossed over?
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