Writing Wednesday 1 - Choosing the Idea

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


For the purpose of this feature, I'm inviting you into my brain. Sorry it's a little squishy, but pull up a neuron or two and make yourself at home. (If you hear voices, don't worry, it's just a territorial dispute between characters all vying for my attention. If you ignore them; they'll ignore you. And if worse comes to worse, there's a bunker in the frontal lobe wedged between some short term memories and the part of my personality that doesn't get let out to play very often.)

Yes, I'm weird. Deal with it.

Let's get this out of the way up front - I am really - really - bad at explaining things. Sometimes the methods that make sense to me are absolute chaos to those who do not inhabit my head-space. But... I'm going to try. I'm going to attempt to go through my "process" step-by-step to show you how I write the things I write. Maybe it'll work for you; maybe it won't, but there will be charts. There will be illustrations. (There may be funny hats!) If you want clarification on something, then ask and I'll do my best to rephrase it.

First up: The basics. What shall we write?

I write MG (middle grade) and YA (Young Adult) fiction - pretty simple, right? Only one of two choices to be made.

I'll zoom in on the YA side to pluck out an idea, which is where things are about to get complicated.

I don't get "ideas." I get blasts of synaptic fireworks that download fully formed universes into my imagination, and those universes run parallel and concurrently, so that  more often than not, I'm manipulating more than one storyline at a time.  Don't believe me? The chart below is a graphic representation of my current Young Adult folder.(Never mind that PREMEDITATED is now a closed file.)



If you could zoom in on my Middle Grade side instead of YA, you'd see something similar, and these titles encompass everything from Contemporary to High Fantasy and Sci-Fi, to Thriller.

Still with me? Great.

Now I'll zoom in one more time, and I can show you this:



This is what each of those small dots representing a series looks like. Multiple books all centered around a common theme, with additional material like backstories or short stories, and then the tidbits that are important only to the series' creator and will never make it into anything that's published.

When I say "idea", this is what it looks like to me.

All of those dots are in constant motion bumping off and pulling against each other like sub-atomic particles. A choice made in one story will invariably find itself reversed in another. Door A will become Door B or a yes will become a no, because "the road not traveled" will always spawn its own journey that must be taken. It can take a while to sort the information, but for me, it's not as much about creation as it is discovery of something that already exists.

I have no intention of overwhelming you with dots or spots or anything of the sort, so for WRITING WEDNESDAYS, we're going to focus on just one. This one:


Which, is also represented by these images / mock book covers, because one of the first things I do when cooking up a new novel is name it find a way to represent it graphically. (And if there is any chance at all that you might be making your own covers in the near or distant future, you might look into a subscription to a royalty-free stock art site. If that's not a viable option, then hop onto Deviant Art and type in "stock art," which will take you to a list of zip folders you can usually (check the guidelines attached, if the artist has included them) use with attribution.):


(images removed for now)



I know all of the young ladies on them look different, but at this point, mood is more important than physical appearance. I'm also curious to see which of the four ya'll like best. I wonder if it matches up with my favorite. Drop me a line in the comments, if you have a preference. Ditto that if you have any guesses as to what the book's about based solely on these images and the title.

This post is getting longer than I intended, so the next part can wait until next week. Go grab an umbrella and dig out your puddle jumpers, because when Wednesday rolls around again, we're going to go BRAINSTORMING!!!

And feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

4 Chiming In:

Matthew MacNish said...

Did you ever see that animated show - Pirates of Dark Water?

Josin L. McQuein said...

I went and checked YouTube, and OMG -- YES I REMEMBER THAT SHOW. Whatever happened to cartoons with actual plots and characters? (However, there are zero pirate ships or telepathic powers present in Dark Water the novel.)

Angie Brooksby said...

Thanks for sharing your method.

I like all the girls except the second. Depends on the story, I guess.

Based on the image I think the water is dark, still too. Looks like a swamp, maybe there is something lurking under there. The girl must be hiding something.

Sam F. said...

I love the visuals of your thought process! Brilliant!

(And I think I like the third image the best.)

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