If you’re ever thinking about telling an author about your great idea for a novel, please stop.
I’ve been warned that once I ‘come out’ as a writer, people will be throwing ideas at me of what they think I should write about.
I never realized just how true that is.
Ever since I announced my book deal, I’m being approached by others telling me of awesome ideas they have for a book I should definitely write. All I need is an idea, they say! Everything else will come. I’ve even gotten texts of witty dialogue I could ‘plug in somewhere!’ because it’s so easy to write a story around a great idea!
Well, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Ideas are easy.
I have an entire Word file of ideas for books. Ideas I have thought through thoroughly (I bet that’s a mouthful) and have plot outlines of. Ideas of main characters, calculated twists, and perfect endings.
Ideas that cannot, without taking months upon months of work, dedication, and more ideas, be made into something.
A book is not just one idea. It’s an entire world, a slice of time put down in words.
It’s circumstances that drive the plot forward. It is the growth and the change between the first chapter and the next. It’s never just x happens and y has to z. Each step has to mean something. Each decision should be carefully calculated on the writer’s part to seem real. The main idea accounts for less than .001% of what truly happens to make reading a book worthwhile.
It’s interactions between all the characters. The world does not consist of the protagonist and the antagonist. It’s full of people (or whatever constitutes as a people) and we have to create them out of nothing to make the reader care for them. They are not ‘extras’ in the background. Supporting characters do just that – support the book in a way the main characters cannot. That is never part of the main ‘idea’ but it’s a huge part of the writing process.
It’s endless amounts of research. I’ve never been to 1800s France or traveled by boat and yet somehow I have to make do with Google. I can’t just make it all up or it won’t feel real. How can you show in words something you’ve never seen? How can you describe a feeling you’ve never felt? Whether the fear of an air raid siren or a gunshot to the leg, it’s things like that that make writing seem impossible at times, and have nothing to do with the ‘idea’.
And lastly, it’s making it all work. Life is not simple. There is no one direction, no one path, no one door. While writing, we have to make the world work. We have to make sure that each part is seamless with the rest. Continuity is preserved. There are no plot errors or time jumps. It’s not just the spelling and grammar that we have to worry about, it’s everything.
An idea cannot be made into a 50,000+ word manuscript. A collection of ideas woven together with blood, sweat, and tears can.
I still can’t believe I wrote even ONE such manuscript.
I have a lot of ideas. I want to do them all but I have to prioritize. I already write slow because English is my second language. It’s hard enough to write as is. Someone else’s idea won’t even make the backlog.
That’s my PSA for the day.