Monday, September 30, 2013

In Search of the Great Premise

How did you come up with the premise for your WIP? If you're anything like me, coming up with an idea is not a problem -- you probably come up with them all the time.  But how do you choose the one that will stick? It takes a lot of time and commitment to complete a novel, so you have to pick the project that will drive you to finish, the one that's you're so passionate about that you can't NOT finish.

And then there's that whole thing about whether anyone else will want to read it.  Not that you should care about that.  Supposedly.  Until you have to care.

Premise envy can sneak up on you.  That's when you hear about a new novel coming out and think, why didn't I come up with that? Usually it's a simple idea, but powerful and full of possibilities.

It can be paralyzing trying to grasp for that great next premise, even if you've completed a novel or ten.  Because the further we get into this writing gig, the more we want to succeed.

To start with, I usually find something I'm excited about: a character, a setting, maybe even an open-ended social or political issue.  Or maybe there's a conflict that's driving me -- two things that oppose each other so forcefully I have to see how it will all play out.

The key thing is being able to imagine writing enough words to complete a whole novel.  Then I start researching/outlining and generally preparing to start a manuscript.  If I'm still interested a week later, that's a good sign.  I write chapter one, and I wonder if a reader would be able to stop reading that book.  What if it had been written by someone else and I had randomly come across it?  Would I be compelled to continue reading?

I've started enough manuscripts to know that not all ideas are good enough to stick it through.  But when you find the right one, it's pure magic.

Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Write with a Newborn

So, I've acquired quite a few new talents during my social media hiatus.  I've learned things like how to carry 9+ pounds of squirming mass around like it aint no thing and how to change a diaper on a fallen log.

But now I'm trying to get back into writing, and I've got a few ideas on how to do it.  I thought I'd share with the rest of the world, in case I'm deluding myself missing anything. Let me know what you think!

  1. Write in Sprints: You don't have time to spellcheck! You don't have time to revise! Oh, she's making that choking noise while she sleeps again; you'd better go check on her now.
  2. Learn to Type While Feeding: Your knee can support her head, right?
  3. Okay, Okay, Plot in Your Head While Feeding: You'll totally have time to bond after your first book tour.
  4. Use Your Dialogue as a Lullaby: What's better than reading your prose aloud? Singing it, obviously.
  5. Use Baby's Cuteness to Snag Cool Research Interviews: Airforce pilots and drug dealers can't resist babies either.  Just make sure they've had their TDAP shot.
  6. Outlining is Your Best Friend: It's kinda like writing. You can tackle the prose as soon as that snotty daycare gets back to you.
  7. Use Dreams as Inspiration: They're a lot easier to remember when constantly interrupted!
  8. Get Help from the Grandparents: Your newborn isn't really going to pick up their insane political views or weird superstitions.  Once you're a bestselling author, you can take over raising your own child again.
  9. Get Help from Spouse: Only one of you can have time for creative aspirations.  So, really, which one of you has more talent?
  10. De-prioritize Social Media: Your novel comes first.  Do not open Twitter! Do not open Facebook! Stop reading this blog now!  Oh, eff it.  Writers need community.
PS: Wrote this whole blog post during one nap! Now to celebrate with some coffee...ah, crap she's crying. :)