Two Competing Ideas...

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
Post Reply
marccolbourne
Posts: 16
Joined: December 19th, 2009, 2:08 pm
Contact:

Two Competing Ideas...

Post by marccolbourne » May 19th, 2010, 1:05 pm

Hello everyone,

For the last couple of months I have been working on two very different ideas for a novel. I have written or sketched out enough of both to know that each one could possibly work as a longer piece of fiction. I feel passionate and excited about both of these ideas. But here's the thing...I don't know which one to concentrate on. I am working on another longer work - a memoir about the life and experiences of an Iranian refugee who was forced to flee his country because he started the first underground gay organization in Iran. I am working closely with this person on this book and it definitely has to be a priority. But I am itching to writing fiction again. So as this other WIP is the priority and I have a day job, I have limited time to work on a novel. I need to choose one of my competing ideas or none of my WIPs will actually see the light of day.

From reading this forum daily, I know that you are a very creative group of individuals and that you must be bursting with ideas. I am certain that you must have to make these difficult decisions. As you know embarking on a novel is a commitment. So I ask you...

How do you choose which one gets your undivided (or semi-divided) attention?

Thanks.
Marc

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by polymath » May 19th, 2010, 1:41 pm

The memoir seems to me more time sensitive than the novel. Will it wait a year or two? Or will it get trumped by someone with a similar concept? Gay rights issues in Sharia law countries are current events.
Spread the love of written word.

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by Margo » May 19th, 2010, 3:17 pm

I have experienced the same problem. I hate sounding mystical and all pop psychology-y about the writing process, but if your situation is anything like mine, the problem might be that neither of your fiction ideas have finished developing in your deeper levels of consciousness. (gag)

I would suggest (as polymath did) continuing to focus on your memoir project. Continue doing R&D on both your fiction projects only as time allows. At some point, one of the fiction projects will rise to the surface, but only when it's ready. In my (very recent) experience, if you try to force a choice, the process will bog down until your progress is nil and your head hurts from trying to concentrate your way through a barrier that your subconscious wants right where it is. When the time is right, the progress should be noticably faster.

However, if you are anything like me, this is not a comforting response. My apologies in advance.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

User avatar
Scott
Posts: 116
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 3:14 pm
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by Scott » May 19th, 2010, 4:06 pm

Margo, I was thinking along the same lines. I'll have competing ideas, and generally it means I'm trying to say the same thing with both of them when I'm finally able to see under the hood. It could be a character I'm feeling or a theme I've been consciously or subconsciously pondering.

At the moment I'm in a similar dilemma: one book wants to be written two ways. Deciding which way will be both marketable and fulfilling of the core idea is the trick. Hopefully, my lazy half isn't tugging me to the easier one.

bcomet
Posts: 588
Joined: January 23rd, 2010, 2:11 pm
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by bcomet » May 19th, 2010, 4:49 pm

I have had this dilemma too. I have a (now backburnered) story that split into two directions, but each idea works completely with the beginning and the characters up to that split. If I ever pull it back out of the drawer, I'm going too have to invent another set of characters and a new beginning for one of the stories or find a way to weave them into one. It's just that one is a magical realism and the other is realism. Sometimes you need to make a choice. And sometimes, it just hasn't germinated enough. Like Margo and Scott, I think there can be a magic that needs its own time before it shows itself fully, like those darned flower seeds I planted.

In the meantime, you are on what looks like a captivating and valuable project. Congratulations.

One suggestion that sometimes works for me is to play with character sketches and development and/or plot development.
When the characters become formed, they can have a lot of input on the direction they need to go in. When a plot is mapped, a story can almost write itself (first draft anyway).

What's cool, is that, if you are a writer, you can get to the ones that keep rising back up out of the pile. I mapped out all the projects I'd like to get to the other day and realized that if I never thought of a new idea, I already have enough ideas for twenty years of writing. No one will probably get to all of their ideas, but the ones that HAVE to be written will show up out of the blue, or if they are in the drawer, they'll keep popping up until you write them.

bcomet
Posts: 588
Joined: January 23rd, 2010, 2:11 pm
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by bcomet » May 19th, 2010, 4:53 pm

Scott wrote:At the moment I'm in a similar dilemma: one book wants to be written two ways. Deciding which way will be both marketable and fulfilling of the core idea is the trick. Hopefully, my lazy half isn't tugging me to the easier one.
Scott, I had an idea that had to be written in three forms. I understand your pain. Sometimes an idea has to have all its ways with you.
:-D

User avatar
Scott
Posts: 116
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 3:14 pm
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by Scott » May 20th, 2010, 12:19 pm

bcomet wrote:Scott, I had an idea that had to be written in three forms. I understand your pain. Sometimes an idea has to have all its ways with you.
:-D
That's fine, but...*sniff*...will it call after? ;)

I think I've decided, actually. The bigger hook won in the end, the one that'll get the query answered if I'm careful. I think I'm also finding that the emotional drive of the other way can work as well with a slightly different approach. The trick is to not add a problem on top of a problem, or get too complicated. The good news is the bits and pieces are flying out of my head and I'm taking copious notes. That's how I know I've got something. For me, at least.

User avatar
dios4vida
Posts: 1119
Joined: February 22nd, 2010, 4:08 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by dios4vida » May 20th, 2010, 12:30 pm

Is there one that you are more passionate about, even if it is an iota more? Or is one better formulated/outlined where it needs a little less work to write?

I have a decent backlog of ideas, and how I prioritize them is:

1. How passionate am I about this book? Are the characters leaping through my mind and dying to burst onto the page? Is the world/story alive in my mind? If I cannot get a story out of my mind, I know it's about time to start writing it.

2. How long have I had this project in queue? (I try to write in the order I think of the ideas, unless something is just dying to by written. It sounds stupid but it really does help!)

3. How far along in the outline/plotting phase am I? The further I am, the easier/faster (in theory) this book will be to flesh out.

I hope that helps, good luck!!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

treeoflife
Posts: 19
Joined: May 1st, 2010, 2:11 am
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by treeoflife » May 20th, 2010, 2:48 pm

I think most writers have had this dilemma before.

Recently I was torn between editing and revising an old fiction piece, writing a new and exciting fiction piece, or writing a timely non-fiction. I've gone with the non-fiction, and am about 50% done, simply because it can't wait a few years.

The fiction ideas will be waiting for me. As to which one to do, well, eventually one will speak to you that much more. I think once you roll the ideas around in your head for a while, you'll be able to decide.

GabbyP
Posts: 15
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 12:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by GabbyP » May 20th, 2010, 3:31 pm

Take some extra time now to write up the first 25 pages of a rough draft of each of your two ideas. By the end of writing those pages, you'll know which one feels right and which one feels like it just isn't ready yet. Now, if you still feel exactly the same about both ideas after this exercise, then flip a coin knowing that you are making the right decision whether it is heads or tails!

marccolbourne
Posts: 16
Joined: December 19th, 2009, 2:08 pm
Contact:

Re: Two Competing Ideas...

Post by marccolbourne » May 22nd, 2010, 12:12 pm

Margo wrote:I have experienced the same problem. I hate sounding mystical and all pop psychology-y about the writing process, but if your situation is anything like mine, the problem might be that neither of your fiction ideas have finished developing in your deeper levels of consciousness. (gag)
Thank you everybody for your suggestions and input. It all made sense to me and, Margo, I believe that you were right on. I don't believe that either of my novel ideas are developed enough to start writing.

I will continue to concentrate on my main WIP (the memoir) and allow the other ideas to percolate for a while longer. Hopefully, when I have the time to truly dedicate myself to the writing of a novel I will know better which one to breathe life into.

Thanks again!

Marc

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest