Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Moving on (and whingeing)

So I've been whingeing a lot in private recently. It's pretty repetitive and goes something like this: "but what if they don't like the whole book and it sucks and I suck and then I have to come up with another idea to write but I love the last one and I'll never be able to do anything as good again, sigh, gasp, moan" and repeat. JP, bless his heart, has gotten used to it. And he tries to help, telling me the right things but in the end he's a writer too and so he knows how I feel.

Because there's not much I can do right now about the "what if they don't like it" aspect of my whingeing, I've been focusing on the "what do I do now" part. I've been casting about for ideas, trying to find my place. I've posted before about how much I enjoy YA and I'm pretty sure that's where I want to stay. But what I've had to face recently, which was quite a revelation for me, is that I've been writing speculative fiction. This excites JP to no end since he is also a spec fic writer and credits himself for my genre shift (he probably does deserve credit since my recent WIP is written in a world he created).

Let me tell you, though, writing spec fic opens up so many doors! When I was writing romance I at least had a basic premise: man and woman, get them together by the end. There are a gazillion ways to write that book, and it's not as easy as I make it sound (and I don't mean to make it sound easy). But at least there's a starting point! I even wrote contemp romance which means it was set in the here and now. With spec fic it could be set anywhere, any time, no rules, all rules -- it seems anything at all goes!!

For the past week I would mutter things like "vampires... done and not my thing... fairies... being done and by great authors... werewolves... I don't have the passion for it... future space epic...." and on and on and on. Part of my problem is that I haven't read enough in the genre to know what's taboo (or done to death) and what's not. Part of my problem is that I'm not sure how far to push the limits, how creative to get?

Then JP reminded me of a story idea I'd come up with about a year ago. Before WIP even (so maybe even two years ago...). It's an idea based totally on a vision. And I love the vision. But that's all I had for a while - that vision. And then JP and I started playing around with it. And then on Friday I had this total revelation (which I would share but it involves details of WIP which I'm not ready to share yet) and the new idea started to fall into place. I realized that I do want a hero and heroine, I love the tension of romance. I think I know the final scene (rare for me to know how it ends) and I'm not quite sure where it starts (though I may have a first line that's been kicking around in my brain). I know the general sense of the plot, but it is going to take a LOT of work. I don't think it will be like WIP where I just sit down and wonder "what shall I write about today?" and then have 2k pour out. I think this new one will take some structuring, some *gasp* plotting. Who knows if it will stick, if it will work. But I'm pretty darn excited about it. I think it's pretty original (though how I'd know since I haven't read widely in scec fic is beyond me). So I think I'll kick the idea around as I put the finishing touches on WIP. I'll poke at the plot, research, see what I come up with.

It's just a relief to have something to play with. To realize that maybe I can come up with another story idea, another world.

What about y'all? How do you feel when it's time to start on the next project? How do you formulate your ideas and develop them?


Miri said...

My ideas tend to clobber my upside the head with a big mallet. During science tests, no less. The idea from the one science test last October is what propelled a total of 118,000 words of writing (73k - wrong narrator, scrap it; 45k - this isn't working, scrap it) and yes, I'm still a little bitter about those five months of wasted time.

What I'm writing now, however, I finished reading The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer and just kind of...wrote the first 1500 words. And then left it for a year and a half. And then came back to it. I'm now nine chapters in.

This probably isn't the type of thing you were asking about - I haven't written enough to have a formula for when it's time to switch to the next project. I've worked on four really serious projects total, six if you count my older and longish but still failed stuff. But I knew it was time to switch from my 45k PoV-character-shifted revamp to my current novel when I sat down at the keyboard day after day and thought, I just can't do this. That night I was having a lot of trouble getting to sleep, but around 11:30, inspiration for the story I'd started a year and a half before started exploding. I wrote out plot points on sticky notes and slapped them on my headboard. When I woke up in the morning, I basically had an outline.

Weird things, man.

If you'd like any suggestions for speculative fiction YA reading in specific subgenres, I'd be happy to make them, since that pretty much makes up my entire bookshelf. Or I guess you call it spec-fic; I just call it fantasy with an occasional dash of contemporary paranormal, urban fantasy, science fantasy, historical fantasy, and dark fantasy. Just ask!

Vicki said...

I have a file in Word with ideas. When they just won't go away I'll type them out, give them a name (it will change) and stick them that file. Then when I'm through with the current wip I can go back to them and sometimes one of them is ready to be written.

Carrie Ryan said...

Miri - I'd love a list of books! I'm going on vacation the week of the 4th and need to do some book shopping :) I love the idea of waking up in bed with an outline scribbled in post-it notes all over the headboard. I tend to have great ideas in bed and think "I'll never forget this" but of course I do. And sometimes you have to put one project aside for another. That's what I did with my WIP (set aside another project) and I can't tell you how glad I am that I did! And I don't have a formula either - that's what makes it fun and frightening at the same time :)

Vicki - I do the same thing too! Sometimes I start a word file and just type a few paragraphs of a new idea. It's always fun to go back through them later. At the end of 2006 I went through everything I'd written that year to count up the words and it was like an archeology dig - so many projects that I'd forgotten about (and prob. wouldn't go back to :)

For me, I think that since I've shifted genres somewhat, a lot of my older ideas no longer work for me. I've spent 6 years on and off day-dreaming up romance plots. Now I just have to teach my brain to come up with a different type of plot!

Erica Ridley said...

No more whingeing! WIP is fabtastic! And I *so* can't wait to see what you do with the secret new story idea...

Diana Peterfreund said...

It really depends on the idea for me. Sometimes it comes fully formed, like Athena from Zeus's head and I can sit down and start writing and there you go. Sometimes it takes a long time -- years -- for the idea to gel. I thought up the germ for Rampant over two years ago. It took a year before I had a premise and characters and a plotline, and another year before it all came together into a proposal I could sell.

Carrie Ryan said...

Erica - thanks!

Diana - you worked so hard on Rampant and it clearly worked out. I need to take heart in that - it's a good lesson that sometimes you have to rewrite and fiddle with an idea before you can make it work the way you want it too. Thank goodness you were willing to put the effort into it. I know a lot of people who would have given up, no matter how much they liked/loved the premise.