Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Story ideas fighting to be first

Three new ideas for middle-grade books popped into my head. I like them all. When this happens, how do you decide which idea to pursue? Or, do you pursue each, perhaps a chapter or so, and see which one gets legs? Or, do you outline each to see which one feels right?

We've talked before about outlining, and I generally don't do it. My latest YA was different. Because of its nature, I absolutely had to outline to keep track of everything. But generally I know the beginning, know the ending and some of the plot points along the way. The story goes where the characters lead me. So outlining all three ideas wouldn't work for me.

How do you handle this situation? So far, my ideas are jotted down on scrap paper. I've been thinking about all three and no one in particular seems to have an advantage. Thoughts? 


  1. Hi Buffy,
    I write creative non-fiction, so my situation is a little different from yours, but that's never stopped me from adding my 2 cents before!! My next book will probably be a collection of writings held together loosely by a somewhat related theme along the line of Anne Lamott's "Traveling Mercies." My blog is more or less my work in progress. I have a "blog" folder on my computer desktop, and it is filled with both completed pieces and new ideas. I have on file called blog topics where I jot down anything I think I might write about in the future. If I have more than a one-line idea, I start a separate file for that topic. I don't write a formal outline, but I write out any thoughts. Sometimes it's just a few words, and sometimes it's full sentences or paragraphs. When I get ready to write something, I scan my topics and "partials" and work on whatever strikes my fancy. It's probably not a method that is taught in any writing classes, but so far it is working for me.

    Love your blogs.


    Linda Brendle

  2. I don't think I've ever had more than one shiny idea at a time and usually I'm already working on something else. I guess I might do a little outlining (something very basic) and then compare and see which idea looked the most viable, which hooked my creative interest. Maybe even write the first page of each one then leave them and come back and see which calls to you the most. Tough one! Good luck :)

  3. Buffy, I would probably do some brainstorming on each of them and see which one blossoms. I have several files of notes and questions and ideas on concepts that never developed a "story" to go with them.

    Let those ideas percolate and see which one brews first!

  4. Thanks so much girls for the great advice. I'm going to do what you suggested and see what happens.

  5. I sketch out every idea in a writing journal. I'll throw the setting, a couple of MCs and their goals and when it comes down to write, I flip though until I find something that feels like its time.