“Oh! I have a really great idea for your next book!”
It’s not unusual to hear this, upon disclosing to a friend – or even a stranger – that you are a writer. I’m sure they do, but experience suggests that an idea for a novel is rarely what a writer lacks. In fact, if you’re like me, you probably have a dozen conceivable plot lines in your head at any given time. Of course, each and every single one is demanding to be written right now! Even when you pick one, the others act like petulant children and refuse to stay quiet while you finish this one.
“Look at me!”
“Give Mommy some peace and quiet. I’m writing.”
“Write me! Write me!”
“Let me finish this book, and then maybe it will be your turn.”
“My turn now! WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!”
“Sniffle, pout. Why don’t you love me?”
“I do love you, but I love your sibling too.”
“If you don’t write me now, I will slink away to the freezer and make your ice cream go melty.”
“Are you threatening me? I will fucking banish you to an appendix!”
Blissful silence… for now. But why am I having a conversation with an idea?
“Is that grass greener?” I wonder as I attempt to stay on track with this book – which I love, and which was the shiny thing – the shiniest! – when I started it. I have a folder named “Chapter Ones” on my hard drive, containing the beginnings (and sometimes more) of many great ideas. They were abandoned for some reason, and there they sit, growing dusty over time, forgotten little bursts of passion, forever overshadowed by the much more vibrant and eye-catching WIP* folder. (Oh my god! I’m sorry! I’m so so very sorry, my poor, forlorn, little orphaned stories.)
Current novel, sitting at about 75% complete, will be the third novel I finish. I know this for several reasons. These include, but are not limited to:
- There is a point of no return. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but I’ve crossed it.
- It really is a good story.
- The ending is (mostly) written.
- I’ve hyped it so much I have friends expecting to read it. Soon.
- I’ve completed two previous novels, so I recognize the momentum/obsession.
- Although I label myself a romance writer, this is my first completely-true-to-the-genre novel.
- My other ideas have remained thoughtfully at bay while I eke out the last chapters.
So, what is the inspiration to finish a novel? I have no fucking clue. Sorry. Some of them get writ, some do not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Some common elements in the two – soon to be three! – that I have finished:
- The way I feel about the characters. My process begins with the characters whispering their story to me. If I don’t quickly fall in love with them, the story gets back-burnered.
- The bare bones of the plot are clear early. This can change as the story unfolds, but there has to be something compelling about the story.
- The first 50K words or so bleed easily from my fingertips.
- I start talking to friends about the idea, and even start to enlist beta readers (double good – I am excited about the project, but also, accountability).
What inspires you?
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*WIP=Work in Progress