As I'm writing, it seems that I keep getting "good ideas" (at least ideas) and I end up writing several pages sometimes that I had not intended to write. The next day, I find that the idea doesn't seem so good and I end up cutting 2/3 or so of it.
I know it's good to just push through and get the first draft written, so should I establish my GICP now and save the new ideas for the revisions after the draft?
I have a general outline of where I want to go, but I wasn't 100% sure how I wanted to get there, so I've ended up with several ideas, all achieving the end goal, but in different ways. "Plot & Structure" discusses this, but I was looking for some real-world examples of how people do it and how well either method works for them (outlining vs. writing as you go).
I know that for myself I have an idea of where the story is going, but I do not use an outline. I just write as I go, and use let the characters do what they want. It works quite well for me, but I know that for some people it does not work as well. If I get an idea that I think might be good, but do not want to add it into the first draft, I leave myself a note where the idea would go and want it was about. Then if the the idea still looks good later, you can add it in without too much trouble. Those are just my thoughts on the matter.
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When I write, I just go wherever the story takes me. While I go back to reread what I've written the day before, I resist the urge to edit it. I leave it there, even if it feels as if it doesn't fit. Why? Sometimes I don't know the significance of what I've written until, fifty pages later, I think, wow, that would tie directly to that one scene that just didn't fit. So, while I might not keep the original scene in the second draft, I might end up reworking it, and if I had cut it, I might never have made the connection.
My feeling: there's no point in editing yourself in the first draft. Save that for the second. For now, just write it out, letting whatever comes to you come. You can always cut later, but if you start editing yourself early on, you'll find it harder to "let loose". Sometimes stories don't end up the way they started--sometimes they're better for it, sometimes not, but if you don't try, you won't ever know.
Although it's inconvenient, it's great that your brain is tossing out ideas. (Reminds me of that scene from I Love Lucy, with the chocolate factory conveyor belt...)
When my brain gets off task, I whip up a .txt file I use to keep ideas, and jot down whatever character idea/scene/plot point is trying to distract me. Unless it's an absolutely structure-shattering, heart-stopping revelation of an idea, I don't try to integrate it at all immediately. I finish my word count for the day.
Some of the things I jot down can be squeezed in with revisions to flesh out the world, add another plotline, or deepen the ones that exist. Some things will turn into their own stories later. The ideas that threaten to really adjust what I've already written need to be thought over and considered away from the keyboard.
I have a general outline of where I want to go, but I wasn't 100% sure how I wanted to get there, so I've ended up with several ideas, all achieving the end goal, but in different ways.
This happens to me a lot, too. I don't like to 'write out' the process of brainstorming too much, except for in the last stages. Thinking, and sometimes writing (not prose, just step-by-step overviews) usually allows me to decide if the idea needs to be integrated, used somewhere else, or dismissed entirely.
Oh. Duh. (hides face sheepishly). The saddest thing is even after you posted that I stared at it for the longest time thinking, what ever can she mean?
Honestly, I don't even know how one would go about establishing such a thing.
Hm, I'm trying to think back... When I have multiple ideas for how to get somewhere, I usually stop and work it through a little in my head, trying to get a feel for what each one entails, how practical it is, how it might affect the rest of my story, whether the characters are acting consistently, or whether it's within their arcs, etc. Usually one idea will excite me more than most, so I pick one, jot down the others, and move on with the new idea. If it means taking a new turn that wasn't established earlier, I still go for it, but I'll put a big note in bold or in caps at the top: "MC and Ellie don't meet until after Ellie's mom dies" or something like that.
I tend to let the characters and story do what they want and I just follow along after them and write down what happened - sort of, LOL! Seriously, when I get an idea that seems like it MIGHT be a tangent, but I have a feel for what to write, I'll write it and include it in the chapter. If it's just an idea teasing the corners of my mind, I'll insert a line in BOLD RED ALL CAPS that tells me what I was thinking there (the idea, and where it might lead). When I'm revising and hit that red note, I often go, "Ah-HA! Now I know what to do with it!" and will add that scene, tidbit of info, or whatever it was. And when I've had scenes pop up that I went ahead and wrote, I've rarely had to cut them out completely. On rare occasion, I've moved them to a more logical spot, but most of the time, they're fine where they are.
Sometimes I'll put Post-Its on my monitor (which now sports - counting here - 8 Post-Its, none of which have to do with my novels at the moment), or tape notes to the bookcase that sits on my desktop. But most of the time, it's the red font thing, which works quite well for me even if I print it out on the laser printer (B&W) because it's not only red, it's in bold caps.
I think ONE time I had an idea that didn't fit in a novel and I cut that whole scene out completely - but saved it in case I changed my mind! It wound up fitting (with a bit of revision) in the next novel (it's handy to write novels as series!).
I have friends who come up with all kinds of fun ideas that they can't use in their current works in progress, so they post them to a "plot bunny" file any of us in the writing group can use in our stories. I adopted one such bunny and created quite a funny scene in a story with it, and what I wrote was completely unlike anything the guy who had the idea would've written.
If you have too many ideas, or ideas "to spare" try sharing them with your writing buddies - maybe one of them needs a nudge!
One thing to remember is that one idea is not enough to build a whole story around. You need to put together at least two ideas for a short story and more than that the longer your story is.
So don't try to write a story from each idea you have. Instead, see which ideas work together (or see which ones don't work together and see if you can figure out a way to MAKE them work together--might be a more interesting story that way). Then write what you come up with from the combinations.
quote:One thing to remember is that one idea is not enough to build a whole story around.
So don't try to write a story from each idea you have.
The issue I'm having is thinking of new ideas for the same story - a new spin on technology, a new action sequence that stems from a small event, etc. It doesn't change the overall plot, but it does considerably alter existing scenes and spawn new ones.
And maybe we need to resurrect the Hatrack Utility Belt (because I don't remember if it has an excitometer or not).
Edited to add that annepin makes a very good suggestion. If you're not excited about an idea, how can you expect your readers to be?
KPKilburn, the next step (as recommended by OSC) is to toss the first few ideas that you come up with to add to your current story, because those are more likely to be the obvious ideas that everyone will think of. Then dig deeper and come up with ideas that aren't obvious and that only a few people would think of.
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited January 16, 2008).]