Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Don’t fall in love with every idea

“There’s no such thing as a bad idea.” This maxim is repeated time and again by writers and writing coaches, and it’s mostly true. Most stories come down to execution. However, I’d like to add a slight wrinkle to this claim: Not every idea you have for a story will be good for you. That is, it might not ever be good for you, or it just might not be the right time for that idea to be explored.

How does that work?

Sometimes, we simply don’t have the knowledge, passion, or time to bring an idea to life. We might adore the basic premise of it, or a singular image of it, but once we realize that we are low on energy, or that we lack the historical, biological, environmental, and/or geographical knowledge to turn the idea into a fully-realized story, we have a choice to make: We can either try to acquire the missing knowledge (the eco systems of marshes for our marsh creature story, for example,) try to fake our way through the story and (probably) have it ultimately suffer when we get tripped up by the details, or we can file it away in our ideas folder for future use and just move on.

The point isn’t to only write about things you know, but to be realistic with your time and to realize that sometimes a cool image in your head is just a cool image in your head, and it might never be anything more, or it won’t become anything more just yet.

And that’s OKAY.

Ideas are like babies in the womb that need time to gestate. Not every idea will speak to you in a substantial way or be feasible depending on your level of motivation and inspiration, or on the amount of perspiration you’re willing to put into it then and there. That last sentence probably doesn’t totally fit with the womb and gestation analogy, but you get the idea.

All that said, here are some unused ideas that anyone can turn into a story if they wish because I haven’t been able to do anything with them:

-Someone has always wanted to have dragon’s scales instead of human skin. They think their chance to turn this wish into reality has finally come.
-A scribe writes about their experience of historicizing a famous war.
-A self-conscious mermaid is reluctant to take her place as queen of her realm.
-A bard wants to learn the dark arts from a necromancer.
-A programmer describes the challenges of teaching and deciding which linguistic characteristics to give an AI.

Happy writing. Or not. It’s up to you.

I’m going to move on to the next one and see what happens.

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