Ansley Asher

writing thoughts

What Are You Saving It For?

Instead of using their great ideas as they have them, people squirrel them away and store them on an idea shelf in their heads where they gather dust… But, we know that’s wrong. The truth is that as soon as you use your best idea, you come up with a better idea… Even writing an idea down in a notebook will let you come up with a new idea.

He’s dead on. For several reasons. Generating ideas–by itself–is a great way to sort out some of the bad ones so you can focus on the ones that shine. It also keeps your mind churning up better solutions to the problems you generate in your work in progress.

Recently, in my WIP for youngsters, I was faced with two characters meeting in a way that I hated. I wanted it to be funny, and the old “pet is lost and needs to be found” encounter just wasn’t accomplishing anything for me. It wasn’t conducive to funny. It’s a sad situation, in fact, to lose a pet (even for a short time), and that’s really hard to turn around to make humorous. So I wrote down that bad idea. And I came up with a much better way–a very silly way–for the two to meet, and it’s working out well.

From the broader standpoint of creating a series of books, I’ve read several lit agents’ blogs that warn against writing an entire series that will never be sold. The general advice (for us new, unwashed masses, anyway) seems to be to write work that can be built upon if the series catches on, but which stands on its own. That’s a good point. Consider that you do only sell the first one…what were you saving those great ideas for? Plus, even if you sell the whole series, later books will have your characters in new places as they change and grow–in state of mind, if not locale. So the ideas you have been “saving” may not even be as funny or exciting by the time you get to them. Or they may not work at all.

If the book doesn’t sell, no one will see your great ideas, anyway. Give each story its best chance to succeed: Stuff your work full!


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