Category Archives: Joys of writing

“I’ve got a great idea for a story”

I’ve heard a lot of people say that.  Sometimes, when I hear the idea, I agree with them; sometimes I don’t.  But here’s the thing that I realized after having spent over a decade of my life as a writer:

The Idea is the Least of the Important Parts.

To be clear, I am not saying that it is unimportant.  Ideas are great.  A great idea can be the foundation for an amazing story.  But of all of the many important parts that go into writing a story, the idea is the least important one.

For years, I guarded my ideas like gold.  I was uncomfortable with the thought of letting other people read my work because, dammit, I didn’t want anyone stealing my amazing ideas!

One of the first clues I got to the mistake I was making was when I realized a basic truth of storywriting: we’re all stealing ideas all the time.  Sometimes it’s obvious.  When I was younger, in particular, it was a bit of a problem, I’d see a movie or read a book, something would resonate, and I’d write a story disturbingly similar to it.  Over time I became more sophisticated in my thefts, but make no mistake, they’re all over the place.  Whether it’s choosing to write from a particular perspective, or a moment in time designed to evoke a feeling I had when reading something else, all of my ideas are patchworks of things I’ve read other places or done other places.

Have you ever watched an old movie?  Something that someone else told you was ‘amazing’ and ‘revolutionary’ and found yourself thinking, ‘please, I’ve seen this a dozen times, and done much better, too!’?  Of course you have.  The first time I watched Psycho I was terribly disappointed.  I knew the big twist at the end, but even if I didn’t, the possibility would have occurred to me fairly quickly.  A major character who doesn’t ever appear and is only ever interacting with one other character?  Come on.

But the reason it’s so obvious now, the reason it’s been done so many times is because it was so revolutionary at the time.  The reason it was done better later is because so many other people stole it.  That’s what you do.  That’s what writing is.  You take what’s there, you mix it up with other stuff, try to do it better than it was ever done before, and when you fail, you try again.

The fact that there are so few new ideas is sort of the point, though.  Whether or not you have a great idea, the point of a story is to use it well.

I’m reminded of the movie ‘throw mama from the train.’  The story of a writer teaching a writing course who gets into a quid pro quo murder scheme with one of his students.  When everything is said and done, they both write books about it.  The student writes  a children’s pop up book, and the teacher writes an award winning novel.  The same information went in, but each of them took very different journeys from there.

Ideas are great, but don’t worry about them.  You’ll have plenty.  And for god’s sake, don’t ask a writer to write your idea for you.  It’s taken us a lifetime to figure out how to screw up our own stories.

The not-quite final countdown

I’ve had Bloody Banquet, the sequel to Awfully Appetizing, more or less ready to go for quite some time now.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as it’s likely to get until I find or make a nice peer review critique group.

For the past year, give or take, I’ve been sitting on it, hoping that Awfully Appetizing would take off, get me a few new followers, and maybe make enough to pay for the cover of book two.

Unfortunately I just can’t wait any longer.  As a friend recently reminded me, I’m supposed to be building a body of work.  More books is better, and, if I’m honest about it, I’ve let this absurd ‘wait for success’ distract me from what being an author is all about: writing.

So my objective is clear.  I need to publish Bloody Banquet.  And soon.  By the end of the year, if at all possible.

I’m going to have to go through it one more time, send it out to a couple of beta readers, buy a cover for it, and figure out how to format it so that I can publish it.  I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about the whole thing.

But it’s time.  It’s definitely time.  Hopefully I’ll have book three out early in 2017.

PeNoWriMo

September is going to be my PeNoWriMo.  My personal novel writing month.  I’ve got a new project in mind.  I have an outline written out, I’ve done quite a bit of world building… arguably too much world building, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m ready to go.  I’m looking at doing 70,000 words, so 2,334 words a day.

I’m excited!  I’m rearing to go!  I need to check back over all my work to make sure I’m not forgetting anything!

Wish me luck, folks.

Curdled Cuisine ready to go!

I just mapped out book three of the Corpse-Eater saga, and I have to say, this book feels like it’s going to be pretty damned full!  I’ve got plots, sub-plots, scenes for overarching plots… I’m introducing a character or two who will be pretty damned important down the road.

I’ve got to admit, I’m excited about this one!  Quite a range of emotions are going to play out over the course of this book, and a few things I’ve invested in throughout the first two books are going to pay off here.

I also had something of an epiphany recently.  I figured out how I want to series to end.  Originally I just wanted to run through my contract with Winlock and see how I felt, but I figured out a couple of things today.  I think I may have to go to twelve or fifteen books to get to where I want to be, but I know where I want the story to end, and I really think I can make it all the way to that moment.

In fairness, I’m saying this as I start work on book three.  By the time I get to, let’s say, book seven, I’ll probably be groaning and whining constantly as I beg for the end of the series to come.  That’s not based on anything I know about the series, just the fact that I’ve never gotten to the end of book three in any series I’ve started writing yet.  Then again, I never had a publisher want to print anything I wrote before, so we’re in a whole new ballpark here!