Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trust me, you'll know

Housekeeping note: To prevent confusion, Diana and I will now post our individual posts in the colors from our Twin Talk Tuesdays. Renee=Red, Diana=Blue.

Anyway, as you may know, I've been searching for the right book idea for a long while. Since early last summer, to be exact. That's almost eight months! (Geez, where does the time go?) In that span of time, I've been working quite a bit on edits with my lovely, brilliant agent, so that has distracted me. But still. Eight months, I've been struggling with this.

It's not that I haven't had ideas. Oh sheesh. Ask Diana or my husband, I've had PLENTY. Some I cast away instantly. Some I scribbled a page or two of notes on, and then lost steam. And many of them are still in my notebook, simmering. But it seemed as if I just couldn't pick one and have it feel right.

Finally, I narrowed it down to two very different ideas. And for the past month, those two ideas have been bouncing around in my head. I found myself waffling back and forth, back and forth between them. I even picked one, and started to outline, but once again lost steam somehow. To tell the truth, part of me was starting to wonder if I'd run aground with my writing.

Then, three days ago, the floodgates opened.

For whatever reason, I started to think about one of my two ideas, and I couldn't stop. I started to dream about the main characters, write notes about them. Then, those character notes turned into overarching story notes. And those story notes turned into plot notes. And all of the sudden, I was writing an outline.

Three days later, I've finished a detailed, seven page outline, and HOLY CRAP I CAN'T WAIT TO START WRITING.*

All of this has reminded me of one very important truth with writing: when the idea is ready, you'll know. As I looked back on every story I've written, I've always had that BAM moment, when I could see the path ahead of me, and the writing engine suddenly roared.

It hasn't always taken me eight months (thank goodness!) For one of my novels, it took two days from idea to BAM. But the point is, I've never been able to stick with a story without first having that moment.

How about you? Do you have to have a BAM moment before writing? Or are you one of those people that joyously writes anything you want, the moment you sit down to write it? (If so, please accept this punch in the nose.)

*Note to my agent, should she be reading, I have not forgotten Searcher edits! I will be dutiful and work on them before I start writing this new book. Pinkie swear.


R.S.J. said...

Go Renee Red! I'm sorry, but I'm one of those sit down and write wonderful things kind of people. Not! I worked on a story for a YEAR before realizing I wasn't connecting with it. That it wasn't the kind of story I wanted to write. I've moved onto something else and we've shared many BAMS together. Have fun exploring your new idea!

(A three page detailed outline?!! I want to see what that looks like.)

Candice said...

I've never really searched for an idea because they always seem to come to me when I'm working on another book. I have to write them down or start on them and set them aside in order to focus on my current book. I'm always part way into my new book before I finish the one I'm working on. Except this time... I have not idea what comes after this book. I've had no idea whatsoever. Hopefully the well isn't dry. Can't wait to read your new idea!!

Melissa said...

Yes, I have to have a BAM moment, too. I can come up with plenty of cool ideas, but until the characters present themselves and the plot begins to unfold, I can't write anything. And I have to have an outline, although it's not very detailed.

Renee Collins said...

R.S.J-Woo hoo! Thanks :) And as for the outline, I wasn't always such a planner, but this story really just unfolded in my mind. So my outline (which is actually seven pages) looks like a paragraph long description of every single scene in the book. :)

Candice-I never had to search before ideas either. And then, I finished Deep and had no clue what to do next. It's a strange experience to seek an idea you don't have yet. But a good experience, all in all.

Melissa-Yes, exactly! The characters making themselves so clear to me really did help. That was the catalyst that got it all going. :)

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Happy to hear about your BAM moment. :D I find that they like to come when we're not looking. Sneaky little buggers. ;-) Good luck with your idea!

Renee Collins said...

Samantha-Thanks! And yes, they do tend to come when you aren't waiting for them. :)

storyqueen said...

I usually have a couple of stories going at a time...then eventually one will take over.

Except right now when I am editing. Then it's only one puppy at a time.


Diana said...

All I can say is I can't WAIT to read this new one!!!!!

KLM said...

What's that famous writerly quote: "you should want to tell a story like you want to spread gossip." I think it's attributed to Oscar Wilde. I never felt that way about writing until I got that BIG IDEA. Then I was off to the races. Of course, the down side of that burning desire is that I wanted to write it down so bad, everything and everyone who got in my way annoyed me. I was like, "Why are you talking to me?!!! I'm trying to write!!!"
"But Mommy, it's Christmas morning...."
Had to dial it back a bit thereafter.

Go, go, go. Keep on cranking them words out!

Renee Collins said...

Shelly-See, I've usually been a focus on one at a time kinda gal. For some reason, though, this one is chomping at the bit.

Diana-*squee* I think you'll like it. :D

Kristan-HA. Yeah, Christmas morning. What a pesky ritual.

Seriously though, I'm the same. It's an exciting, but frustrating time. :)

Kasie West said...

Now I must know which of the two ideas. You must email me and tell me immediately. :) That's great though, I usually don't have a BAM moment. I just have to force myself to write and then finally it starts to flow after a while....or doesn't and then I have to move on.