Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to Write Your Stupid Book: Tip 2


But does it have legs?

Everyone gets ideas. Some are better than others.

For example, the other night I had a particularly vivid dream. Sometimes I get great book ideas from my dreams so when I woke up I quickly jotted notes. Then I let it simmer during the day. As the day wore on I mulled it over. In the end, I decided that using my nail gun on a certain delicate part of my ex’s anatomy might make a great scene but, ultimately, it would be difficult to pull an entire novel out of that one idea. As much as I’d like to.

Whatever your premise, it might start with a wee nugget of an idea. But then you need to nurture it and walk around with it in your head. You should contemplate the premise over dinner, pour that idea a glass of wine then take it to bed. When you wake up in the morning, if it’s still under your skin and growing inside you like a nasty STD, it might be time to take it for a spin.

I’ll use my Ghost Dusters series as an example. If I told you my book was about a housekeeper who solved mysteries, you might be polite and say, “That’s nice.” Or go all “Church Lady” on me and say, “Isn’t that special.”

But if I told you my book was about someone who, not only cleaned houses, but cleaned them after crime scenes and, oh yeah, she’s able to talk to the dead, you’d probably be more likely to say, “Holy sh*t!” or “Wow!”.

Publishers are tight wads and they don’t want to buy a book that’s just “nice”. They want one that’s “holy sh*t”.

Truth is, your idea needs to be BIG. HUGE. It needs to have substance and biggest-loser-contestant size weight to carry you through a few hundred pages. And if you do write a few chapters and you feel the idea drying up it’s not necessarily because it was a bad idea, it could just be that this particular premise was more suited to be a scene, or a chapter, or a subplot in your next book.

Off to buy a nail gun and do a little research.

8 comments:

wend said...

Hat off to you. Not only can I not remember any dream after the first 10 waking seconds but I get so easily sidetracked/bored that I would never to able to write a book. I lose interest in the middle of e mails and sometimes even in the middle of blog posts even if...

Wendy Roberts said...

ha ha ha, Wend! You're brilliant :)

Anonymous said...

How much do you write before you give up if it doesn't have legs?
~~Jill

Wendy Roberts said...

Jill, I think if I've written 80-100 pages and I'm stalled because it feels like it has nowhere to go, I put aside. I may pick it up again later, or I might even include it in my next novel.

Unknown said...

Sometimes the same thing happens to me while drafting letters at work. I find that saving it, walking away from it, and then after a good long coffee break come back and re-read it. I usually find that the meat of the original idea is still there, but I have developed it into something better than it started it out as. Then I bask in the compliments about how articulate I am (a thesaurus is a wonderful thing!!)

Wendy Roberts said...

A good author has a dog-eared thesaurus or thesaurus.com bookmarked lol!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Another great HTWYSB post, Wendy. I keep all the ideas I'm mulling over in a Word file (that's probably 5 pgs long by now). When I'm ready to start something new, I pull it out and see if any of them have legs enough to make me yearn to write them.

Onezumi said...

Ok the picture had me cracking up. :)