Monday, May 12, 2008

Ideas spring from...where?

I am excited and relieved that I have a plot for a future novel knocking around inside my brain. One that I look forward to researching and writing. One that because of its very nature, I must outline. And, truth to tell, I am a vague "outliner" at best.

So the excited part is easily understandable. We all should be excited about what we write, right?

But I'm relieved as well. Relieved because when I'm finished drafting my current YA, I don't fear I'll never have another good idea and live a plotless writing life.

I've been through these fears before. Halfway through my first novel I took a workshop with a week-long assignment, "bring in a first chapter of a new novel." I spent four days wandering around my home, my town, my job, thinking I could never invent a plot on the spot. And I'm still not sure I can.

But what I am sure about, is I can come up with an idea, and from an idea a plot will flow...eventually. In the case of my workshop assignment, as I worried through my week, I found myself sipping my traditional Starbucks grande non-fat latte while waiting in line to check out my groceries. As I looked across the front of the store, I saw that teen-agers manned every register. Some were chatting up their customers or each other, others were battling bar codes, and the one kid who flagged me for putting fourteen items through the twelve items or less aisle stilled ruled express.

I knew right then I had my idea. I'd write a book about a kid who was starting his first job in a grocery store.

It wasn't until later that day, when I actually started to type, that anything resembling a plot started to form. But three days later, I handed in a first chapter that had three strong characters, a vivid setting, and a clear conflict. I still had a long way to go, but at least I had directions.


  1. As I'm happily in the revision process - I'm also plagued with the "what next" fear. It doesn't seem possible that I could feel so much for and become immersed in other character's lives as I'm doing right now. But I also felt that way when I finished my previous manuscript. It just takes too long!! Great idea to just sit back and observe. Story ideas are all around us. Fleshing them out is the tricky part, lol.

  2. I definitely relate to the "what next" worry. For me, it's worst if I finish everything on my plate. As long as I have a couple of active ideas on my plate, more seem to keep flowing. But I'm sure this is easier because I write so many short things.