Where do ideas come from?

Where do ideas come from?

Simple answer: They come from everywhere.

And that simple answer drives new writers nuts. They look all over the place and don’t see any ideas! What is the crazy person talking about?

I understand the frustration. I was there once.

What I have learned is that, yes, the ideas are out there. But first you need to learn how to SEE them.

What do I mean by this?

A comedian can take the simplest thing in life and make it hilarious. Is it because the world they live in is funnier than the one we live in? No, it’s because of how they look at the world. They have trained themselves to see the humorous aspects of the same world the rest of us live in.

And that’s why they can make a living keeping people laughing.

It is the same with writers. It is not that writers intrinsically live in a world more interesting than other people (although there are always exceptions). It’s that they have trained themselves to see the possibilities around them.

It’s how we look at the world.

Ideas are all around us every single day. But in order to see them, we have to look at the world a little differently. Slightly cross-eyed with a squint, while doing a handstand.

Okay, maybe we don’t have to go that far.

But we do need to let go of ‘normal.’ Don’t be a control freak, don’t force it. Let yourself be open to the kinds of ideas that anyone else would think stupid.

Relax. Take a deep breath.

And remember to never call your idea center or your Muse stupid. THEN take a look around.

That article in the newspaper about a new way of gardening? There’s an idea for technology, location or character. The news report about the firefighters saving a kitten that turned out to be a domesticated large cat? Oh, big idea there for a set-up in a book. How about a new technological breakthrough? Big story idea of what would happen if the idea were taken to the extreme.

Almost anything can be the core of an idea. The grandma ahead of you in the checkout stand with a streak of neon yellow in her hair? How about the crazy magazine article titles? The downpour that catches you before you can get the groceries unloaded”

Any of the above can inspire a location, the beginnings of a small scene, an introduction to a character or premise, or all the way up to a full plot. Let yourself see the small possibilities along with the big.

Learn to see the possibilities around you.

For some people this is easier than others. I sometimes have trouble because my mind over-analyzes everything around me. I explain things away with logic. But the worlds we create aren’t always logical (or they will threaten to become boring). It takes practice to let go of the rational part of the brain, and see things from a slightly different angle.

The effort is worth it. Once you start seeing the possibilities around you, the ideas don’t stop. At first this is a great thing. Oh, look, story fodder!

But the ideas keep coming…

Then comes the realization that even if you live to be 200 years old there won’t be enough time to write all the ideas.

Gee, what a problem to have!

Once you get past the mental barriers you’ve set up in your mind, you will find the world full of endless possibilities for characters, locations, scenes, and yes, even entire books and series.

Practice with one edition of your local newspaper or the evening news. Pick out one thing that could be useful in a story. Try looking for the little things first if looking for the big ideas is too much pressure. Look at the titles of the magazines at the grocery store while you are waiting to check out and find just one that could contain the glimmer of an idea.

Then play “What If?”.

Writing is as much craft as art. Craft can be learned. Start training your mind on the craft side, teach it to be open to what is around you.

The next question is how to organize these ideas…

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“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

A Will for Writers

I have never had a will. Even when I was young, this bothered me, to the point I recall once writing something out to give everything to my parents and sister in a school notebook.

Now I’m writing up a storm. If something were to happen to me, I want the benefit of my writing to go where I want, and not where a court wants. With the advent of e-books and the long tail possibly going well past my lifetime, either natural or not, this is something for every writer to think seriously about.

Then Neil Gaiman posted this post along with a link to a free template.

Simple, but it will get the job done in my state until I someday come up with something better (or get to a lawyer). Oh, I am SO going to do this over the weekend!

Product for the Experiment

I’ve made a business decision to see what might happen as an Indi Author/Publisher. As I want this to be successful, I cannot just let things fall as they may. So, it’s time to make a few hard decisions. I need to go into this with a plan. A full business plan will come later, which I will post, but for now I need to get started on a few other details.

So, let’s start with something very basic: A business must have something to sell.

Hehe, a pretty obvious point, yet one of great importance. It is not something to be overlooked or dismissed with an “of course”.

For a writer, it has big implications. Projects planned. Release dates scheduled. All the incremental steps along the way planned out. Writing and revision takes time. So do the other parts of the process. That means a good lead-time before the release date.

I want to start releasing product somewhere between January and March 2011. The exact dates will be refined towards the end of summer, but I needed a target to aim for right now.

However, I also made the decision to share the process for others. Who knows, perhaps something in the way I plan, write, and revise a project might inspire and help another writer.

Because of that I didn’t want to simply take a project from my hard-drive to use to illustrate the experiment. They are already completed. It would be difficult to share the process as I may not remember all the steps the project went through.

So, that meant a new project. A project I could share in “The E-Book Experiment” from start to finish, that could be finished in time for a target of January to March 2011.

The above might seem like small things, yet they aren’t. Business decisions are not made in a vacuum. Likewise, the product a business produces is not chosen randomly.

Having taken the time to identify the very basics, I now know a few very basic, but very important, items to keep in mind. Knowing those limitations, and working within them, will give me a better chance at success.

For instance, the release target dates present a bit of a problem. To start a book right now and have it completely polished by the beginning of 2011 is possible for me if life is calm. But life isn’t calm right now and I don’t expect it to be for quite some time. So, writing a typical novel of 70,000 to 100,000 words is simply not possible. At the same time, I don’t think this experiment could really be satisfied with short stories.

Enter the novella.

A novella is typically defined as a story between 17,500 to 40,000 words. I’ve written novellas for ages in fanfiction. It’s a very comfortable length that allows the author to tell a meaty story without it dragging on for days of reading. But, I’ve never written anything original at that length because of the problem of finding a market for it.

Now there’s a market. One of the great things about e-books is that the novella has come out of near non-sellable obscurity to make a dramatic resurgence. For a new project, it would be wonderful to try it out.

The novella has the added benefit that I can, with good conscience, price it low. A low price point for the early work my writing business produces is exactly what I want.

Can I make a novella as successful in my original writing as I have with fanfiction? Time to find out.

Now I have parameters in which to fit a project. What project that is, I don’t know yet, but it has to have the following qualities:

* New project
* Project must be ready for release somewhere between January to March 2011
* Novella length (17,500 to 40,000 words)

Time to go fishing for story ideas. Or sparklies? My Muse loves sparklies…
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NOTE: For the writing aspects of the series, I’ve dropped “The E-Book Experiment” from the first part of the title. Some of the blog titles were going to get too long otherwise.
_______________________________

“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

July Novel Writing Month Anyone?

Revision on the current book is almost finished. Does that mean it’s time to rest and take a vacation?

Not for a writer!

I’m addicted to writing. I admit it. Life doesn’t feel complete without plotting, planning, writing and revising all the stories coming out of my head. Even if no one ever read them, I would still write.

Hey, there are a lot worse addictions to have!

I’m also prolific. When I’m on a roll I can write 10,000+ words on a single full day. The highest word count in a single day has been 18,000 (I’m not aiming for that last number ever again. I suffered for it for days after.).

So, it follows that I have a great deal of fun in November for National Novel Writing Month. Apparently so do a lot of other people…

Because other events have sprung up all over the place. July is one of them. “July Novel Writing Month” was inspired by November’s NaNoWriMo. The premise is similar: 50,000 words in 31 days (1613 words a day). Where the November and July event differ is that JulNoWriMo invites those with previously started projects to join in. The idea is to get 50,000 words total.

And yes, despite life being rather crazy, I’m joining in for the second time. You can find me over at the JulNoWriMo website under the user name “Dreamerscove.”

This works out well with “The E-Book Experiment” premise. I need product, as in plural. Time to create more.

Now to get a few outlines in place…

Hope to see you there!

Revision Type-In Finished!

Into the Forest Shadows

On a world of valuable giant trees and intelligent animals, a red-cloaked headstrong teen struggles to save her family from a planetary conspiracy awaiting her at Grandmother’s house.

The above 2009 NaNoWriMo book was the novel I used to go through Holly Lisle’s “How to Revise Your Novel” class. The class started on December 1st of 2009 and finished in April. Only now have I finished one of the final stages, and that was to type in all the changes I marked up on the printed-out manuscript.

The original first draft: 81877 words

Revised draft: 79855 words

Considering I had several new scenes and no cut scenes, I’m surprised the word count didn’t go up. But, there you go. I was snipping a word here and a sentence there. Every so often a portion of a page. It all added up.

Hehe, or deleted up.

Whew, what a lot of work, but definitely worth it! I’m really happy with the way the story came out. Now to format it into chapters and prepare it for the beta-readers, who will then rip it to shreds. 😀