What do you do when an idea takes over?

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klbritt
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What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by klbritt » July 25th, 2012, 12:06 am

Last month (June) I was working heavily on my novel and reached 88k in word count (yay!), however I feel it is no where near complete, which sucks because of the length. It's a YA novel so I'm really pushing the limit on word count as it is. Anyway, while on vacation, an idea struck me while driving with my family and I took some notes and wrote down some opening lines.

Since being back at home, the other novel has pretty much been put on the back burner and I've run with this new novel. I REALLY need to finish the other one, but am struggling with a few of the plot points I've written into the story. And I think I'm using that excuse to put it on hold :) I'm 15K into the new novel and the story just comes so easily, making me want to write on this one.

Enough of my rambling. So when you're working on a novel and inspiration strikes for something totally different, what do you do? Have you ever had this happen? I'd love to hear some of your experiences...

~Kristie
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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by Mark.W.Carson » July 25th, 2012, 6:52 am

I'm writing a YA novel as well. I've had this happen to me about four times, so I've back burnered the "new" projects, but I have tried to write their "story page" when the idea comes up.

Also, I don't think that 88K words is pushing it when it comes to YA. There are plenty that are a bit longer, and some a bit shorter as well. You'll likely need to pare it down a bit, if you have not already given it a good polishing, but that is not absurd in length.

My 1st draft is 63K, but I omitted several chapters where I did not have a good grasp of where they were going, and I plan on introducing some more chapters, though a few may get the axe.

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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by LizV » July 25th, 2012, 12:11 pm

klbritt wrote:So when you're working on a novel and inspiration strikes for something totally different, what do you do?
I usually try to work on both. This... does not work as well as I might wish. ;) Put the new thing on hold and risk the fire of inspiration dying, or put the old thing on hold and risk never getting back to it? It's a tough choice. I have found, though, that for ideas that are really on fire in my head, waiting doesn't kill them; the fire burns lower but burns steady, if I can be pardoned the poetic turn.

A technique that I know works for some people is to set a fixed amount of time to work on the new idea -- one week, say, or a maximum of one month -- and devote themselves wholly to the new thing for that time. Then it's back to the old one, and no excuses until it's done.

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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by writersink » July 25th, 2012, 12:57 pm

So when you're working on a novel and inspiration strikes for something totally different, what do you do?
I write it down, and focus on my novel. If it is good, it'll be the thing I work on next. However normally I find that after leaving it for a week, it isn't as amazing as I originally thought.

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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by Sommer Leigh » July 25th, 2012, 2:00 pm

It depends. Sometimes, especially with our earlier ideas, we reach a point where they will need a lot of help from us to survive, but we've learned so much from them that when a new idea strikes, we're a lot more prepared to work on those than we are to figure out how to save the old ones that aren't as strong.

This is common with new writers as well as experienced ones.

I've abandoned projects before to work on new ideas. I think this is ok, but not if you are a habitual abandoner. You need to finish some times, but if it is your first, or second, or third novel attempt, it might be ok to treat those early projects as training novels and come back when you have the time to devote to them. If you feel powerful about the new idea, and it feels right and you are able to plot it out, it might be a good idea to follow it through to its conclusion.

It's a very personal decision and depends entirely on where you are at in your development as a writer.

Also, 88,000 isn't long for a YA (depending on the genre). However, it sounds like you might not be finished? In which case, you're probably right about your gut telling you it's going too long. Genre YA has more leeway with word count than contemporary or literary does. A good rule of thumb is to see where your major plot points fall - the first plot point should fall roughly 25% of the way in, the midpoint twist at the 50% mark. If they don't, you'll know where you've overwritten.

Good luck!
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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by Shipple » July 25th, 2012, 8:33 pm

I've definitely abandoned projects after I'm well into them.

I think that was actually a good thing, but ONLY if you will have the tenacity to come back to your projects (although, honestly, as long as you don't do it too often, some projects just aren't as good as others and maybe should be abandoned).

For me, like with your 88k, incomplete book, sometimes I abandon a project because I need to rethink some things. I'll start my new, exciting project and that's great because I'll be so excited that the writing will come easier and I'll get more done.

In the meantime, my old project will be on a back burner in my brain, and I'll be thinking about it on and off and analyzing some of the problems I see in it and re-thinking some of the plot points (if necessary). Then once I'm done with my new, exciting project, I'll go back and work on the old project. It's hard, of course, but sometimes writing is hard, and sometimes you'll come back to the table with some new ideas that will fix some of the problems you had.
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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by MattLarkin » July 26th, 2012, 12:56 pm

Usually save it for later. But take notes on it, to get it out of my system so I can focus on what I'm doing.
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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by dios4vida » July 26th, 2012, 1:13 pm

I stick with my current project. I'll devote a morning (since usually my lightning-strike-oh-my-gosh-this-is-amazing moments are in the early morning) to write out everything that's in my brain on this Shiny New Idea. Then I save the file, write up a sentence or two on my Shiny New Idea board, and go back to work on what I've been writing on. The Shiny New Idea will sit and simmer in my subconscious, and I find that I'll make connections between homeless ideas and other plotlines without actively thinking about that one. These, too, are all written on the Shiny New Idea board and then ignored. Then, by the time I finish my current WIP and am ready to start a new project, the Shiny New Idea board is full of great stuff and usually I can take at least two ideas and put them together into a single story.

At least, that's how it works for me. :)
Brenda :)

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

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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by MattLarkin » July 26th, 2012, 1:24 pm

dios4vida wrote:I stick with my current project. I'll devote a morning (since usually my lightning-strike-oh-my-gosh-this-is-amazing moments are in the early morning) to write out everything that's in my brain on this Shiny New Idea. Then I save the file, write up a sentence or two on my Shiny New Idea board, and go back to work on what I've been writing on. The Shiny New Idea will sit and simmer in my subconscious, and I find that I'll make connections between homeless ideas and other plotlines without actively thinking about that one. These, too, are all written on the Shiny New Idea board and then ignored. Then, by the time I finish my current WIP and am ready to start a new project, the Shiny New Idea board is full of great stuff and usually I can take at least two ideas and put them together into a single story.

At least, that's how it works for me. :)
Yeah. What she said. Except for the morning part. My brainflashes are not time-specific. I tend to get them when driving or showering, sometimes.
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Re: What do you do when an idea takes over?

Post by Claudie » July 27th, 2012, 10:42 pm

I do as most others have said when the brainflash strikes: I write it down, along with all I can think of, in a writerly notebook (if it's very short, I have a tiny calepin with "Very Good Ideas" written on it). Then I go back to my main project. And I wait for NaNoWriMo/Script Frenzy/Camp NaNo, whichever comes first. The idea here is that my first drafts are always exploratory piles of crap. I'm playing with characters and ideas and possible plots without regards to the writing, and two years ago I started using NaNoWriMo to do so. I love NaNo for writing fast, funny and pressure-less (about quality) and the wild energy from my region's group is incredibly for exploring new ideas.

So yeah. I stick to my original idea until NaNo comes, then I give the newcomer one shameless month of complete attention. :) I never work on more complete projects during NaNo anymore anyway.
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