Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How Do You Choose?

If you're like me or the other YAtopians, you have multiple story ideas bouncing around, vying for attention like a couple of teenage girls in the front row of a Bieber concert. Not only that, but many of them are good ideas. And when you write novels? Your choice is probably going to define the next year or so of your life.

So how do you choose?

Until recently, I never had to make this decision. But in December I decided the story I was working on wasn't going to work (heartbreaking decision, btw) and I needed to start another. It was then I realized I had no less than SEVEN viable ideas I wanted to use.

Honestly? At first, I panicked. I did anything to avoid thinking about it. One night in January, I finally wrote down a short synopsis of all of them, hoping one would jump out at me.

But it didn't.

So I avoided it again. I even considered going back and editing my very first (trunked) book. I finally decided to take a systematic approach (hey, I'm an engineer after all): I would do short character sketches and write the first chapter for each idea. If I was somebody who did that sort of thing, I probably would have outlined each story too.

But before I had the time for any of that, something odd happened. I had an idea based solely on a title my roommate threw into conversation one night and it started to gain momentum. I sought out books about dragons at the library. My ears perked up every time a dragon was mentioned on TV. Then, the real Crazy began. I dreamt about dragons. I talked to my dog about dragons. (He's the best listener I know)

So, two weeks ago, I started writing the first draft of Dragons Are People Too, relieved my subconscious had picked my next project for me. And I'm loving it so far.

I have a question for you so that I'm prepared next time: When you're wrestling with more than one idea, how do you decide which to focus on first?

Oh, and don't forget: I'll be doing a giveaway when we reach 200 followers!


  1. Thankfully (or unthankfully?) I have never had that problem! After my first book, I actually worried that I'd never get another story idea. But I did. (whew!)
    If I had multiple ideas, I would probably do the same as you - wait it out and see which one claws its way to the top of your mind. Some things just can't be forced. It has to happen naturally, no matter how crazy it makes us. :)
    Good post, Sarah!

  2. I haven't had that problem really either. I currently only have 2 ideas, and I'm pretty deep into working on one of them. The other was a Nanowrimo piece that I'm about 10,000 words into, but of course the idea I'm closer to finishing takes precedence.

  3. Yup, that's it. That's exactly it. I think the idea finds you. And you're right, you have to put so much effort and time into it, you better be fully invested because I have at least five unfinished "starts" on my hard drive.

  4. Basically, I just start writing them. The ones that I can't get past 5 thousand words on are the ones I stuff away into the inner regions of my brain to return later. The one that I'm excited to keep working on is the one I keep using.

  5. Oh I wish I had seven different ideas to choose from!!! Envious! I love that title, "Dragons are people too" - I love all mythical creatures but dragons are in my top 5. Will have to pop back for more details as they develop. New follower; found you via Lisa Gail Green.

  6. Great post! I know the feeling. The other night I was working on three manuscripts at once =S

    Looking forward to Dragons!

  7. Welcome, Margo! (And a big thanks to Lisa.)

  8. That is soo hard! I struggle with it. I currenly have a contemp waiting at 16k, a paranormal at 19k. Two sequels I would love to do, but can't until I sell the book ones, a document of other ideas and yesterday wrote up a blurb and character sketches for another. LOL. What's a girl to do?

  9. One of my friends on Twitter suggested a dart board! I have a Magic 8 Ball app where you can make the possible answers anything you want, so maybe I'll do that next time! ;-)

    We're glad to have you Margo! I love the title too! I'm REALLY bad at picking titles so I'm glad to start with one this time.

  10. Haha - love this: '... vying for attention like a couple of teenage girls in the front row of a Bieber concert.'

    Sounds like books pick us to write them, rather than us picking the book to write :)

    I have so many ideas I have to lock them away just to be able to concentrate on the book I'm writing. Wish I could write more than one at once like Sharon!

  11. So, weird thing: I wrote this blog post Sunday night, it published this morning. Around noon, when I went to the gas station, someone had this same exact dragon logo on the back window of their car. Weird, right?

  12. It's a sign, Sarah. You chose the right story! lol

    Ooh, I like that, Anni. The stories choose US!

  13. What you say about the choice defining the next year of your life hits my nervousness right on the head! I know I can't bound around between ideas once I choose, because then I'll never get anywhere. I have to commit! I try to tell myself that the others will be there when I'm ready for them, but it's still really scary. Great post!