People Leave So Many Ideas Lying Around!

I was at the movie theater this week, taking in the bargain-basement special. If you get up early enough, tickets cost less, and I’m always up pretty early, anyway. The movie wasn’t bad, or maybe even good.

Somewhere toward the beginning of the movie, my mind latched onto some little detail of the thing that appealed to my Muse. I’m not talking about something like “It should be about a girl who gets caught up in a tornado, and whisked away to a strange land, but instead of OZ, in my book, it’ll be Macy’s.” More like watching Gone With The Wind, and focusing in on “This is set in the south. What a cool idea. My next book’s gonna be set in the south.”

Except, you know… the south on a space-ship, ’cause that’s more my thing.

So, at that point, half my brain goes scooting out along a “Well, what if I did this?” track, while the other half is still sitting in the theater, keeping an eye on the movie and its plot.

It wasn’t a bad movie. It held enough of my attention, even though I’d found a bunny to chase, and maybe that actually makes it a good movie.

But it wasn’t my movie. It wasn’t my story. This other thing–the other train of thought–it was mine.

So, there I am… fiddling with one set of ideas while I’m watching a different set on the screen in front of me. No, I really don’t know how that’s possible.

I’ll tell you about the idea sometime. I’m still building it, right now. I’m about a million miles away from having a plot. Or, you know, characters, conflict, structure, or a name for my spaceship.


Why I Don’t Write Down My Ideas

I read another one of “those” articles, today. The kind that talks about how to choose which idea you want to use for your next novel. You know the ones–keep a notebook with you all the time. Write down your ideas. Later on, when you have time, or energy, or when you want to go spelunking for ideas…


I don’t want to go spelunking for ideas. Occasionally, I do, but in general, just for short stories. Maybe a blog post, or two.

When I’m looking for a book idea… I’m not looking for the kind of idea I’ll forget in a day or two, if I don’t write it down.

I’m looking for the one that keeps gnawing at me all day… The one I still remember the next morning. The one that other ideas wrap themselves around.

I won’t find that kind of idea in the long list of things I thunk up and wrote down, and would have forgotten entirely without a pen and paper.

Fishing for Ideas… Catch and Release Style

Camp Nanowrimo is coming up in a couple of weeks, and my goal is 30k off a new Science Fiction project. All fine and well. Except, of course, that I don’t actually have a Science Fiction project, and I don’t have an idea for one.

I don’t have an idea for any other kind of project, either.

So, I spent most of this morning–between mindless day job tasks–toying with an idea that hit me somewhere between thinking about the latest headlines, and thinking about very basic characteristics. Height. Age. Gender.

Or, you know.. genders.

So my hypothetical main character in my hypothetical idea wakes up one morning to discover she has been transformed into… A man. (What?!! At least she didn’t turn into a giant cockroach, or anything.)

And this happens to be par for the course in her (’cause it’s supposed to be science fiction) alien society. It’s not like she wasn’t prepared for it. She’d had “the talk.”

“The talk?” Well, that was a surprise. I don’t write about children. I might be able to scare up a teenager or two, if I looked really hard, but they wouldn’t be main characters. And I don’t really write for children.

And yet, here’s my idea, looking for all the world like a metaphor for puberty.

The idea stuck. I don’t know why. The MC is now a teenage girl who wakes up the day of prom to discover… Well, let’s be honest. I definitely didn’t envision my main character turning into a teenage boy. Where’s the fun in that?

But suffice it to say, she missed the mark worrying about whether her prom dress showed too much cleavage.

The dress–and the cleavage conversation–brought up the idea of parents. Let’s say “parents,” because obviously, they have the same species-specific relationship to gender that my main character does.

Apparently, the parents are immigrants. I don’t know where they came from, and I don’t know where they are, right now–Earth, maybe?–but they know the old ways are best. And prom dresses just don’t have the traditional robes’ gift for covering everything that may or may not need to be covered. No, it doesn’t matter what Jayna Merman is wearing.

And then, there’s the question of that prom date. *groan* Exactly how is he going to take the new and improved main character?

**Looks at what this idea is turning into**

YA? Is it YA? Young adult? It is young adult!

**screams, and throws it back.**