Ready…Set…???

I wonder sometimes how I know when a story is ready to write. How can I tell when it’s time to pick up the metaphorical pen and start drafting? How do I know I picked the right idea?!

In a nutshell, I ask my gut.

So, whenever I’m planning a new story idea, there’s always this moment where I freak out. I think, “Something’s missing.” or “I can’t do this.” or “What if this story is really stupid.” If my gut agrees with me, then I have to go back to the plot bunny pit and wrestle the idea back into the crockpot to bake some more. Or sometimes just plum throw them out, to the wind, where maybe someone else can reassemble it into something they love.

I’ve mentioned that I was going to work on a dark fantasy called Phantom Silence. But then I freaked out, so I switched to my supernatural horror “Whisper.” This past weekend I wrote the first chapter on a whim (I wasn’t planning to write that night at all!) Then in a random burst of inspiration, I finished the outline for it on Sunday (first time I’ve done that in a LONG time!) But then I freaked out again. So I went back to Phantom Silence and wrote that first chapter Sunday night. (Again, on a whim.)

Then something terrible happened! Two hours later I was over my “Whisper” freak out and wanted to write it again. And I still wanted to write Phantom Silence, too! Now, I’ve been in this situation before, but one story always, ALWAYS wins out. But this time I can see myself writing both! I don’t want to choose!

And I won’t. Maybe I’ll finally live the dream of working on two projects at once. Of course one may still end up taking over, but I know where I’m going with both of these stories, and they’re doing the unthinkable: harmoniously sharing the empty space in my head! It’s like there’s a little stage in there and one story is one side of the curtain having a field day, and the other story is one the other side doing the same. And they’re both minding their own business!

Usually, an idea comes along and grabs me so hard around the brain that I can’t imagine writing anything else. My theory: the story is ready when I can run through the plot in my head and not run into any major bumps. Doesn’t mean I know everything, but there are no longer any big picture questions that I don’t have an answer to. And three weeks ago, Phantom Silence had an unanswered question. And now it doesn’t. It worked itself out while I was busy with “Whisper.” (God, I love my writer crockpots!)

I’ve never successfully done this though, so I decided to ask my brain what was going on.

To preface, we started off a few weeks ago talking about Jade (the MC in “Whisper”). My brain suggested that maybe I needed to change my focus, worrying less about the plot and focusing more on building the story around Jade. (Character driven instead of plot driven, which I should have thought of before because I know I thrive best in a character-driven environment.) At the time I was busy trying to work out said plot hole in Phantom Silence. (And we all know how well things go when we think about it too much. So I was doing more staring at the wall than problem solving.)

That conversation went something like this:

Brain: I love Jade.
Me: Not right now.

(But since when does my brain listen to me? Never.)

Brain: What if you got her age wrong? What if Jade is a teenager?
Me: She’s not.
Brain: What if she is?
Me: Shh! I’m trying to think.
Brain: Yeah. I can tell by all the empty space up here.
Me: Ha, ha.
Brain: Think about it. For two seconds. Then I’ll shut up.

So I did. Why not? And in literally a couple of seconds the wheels were turning. So I turn to my brother and say, (sounding random as hell, I’m sure): “What if Jade is a teenager?”

And my brother (without taking his eyes off his phone) mumbles something to the beat of: “Sounds like a plan.” (I’m not sure he was actually listening to me, but he could hear me, and that was good enough.)

So I continue to talk out loud, even though no one was listening, and start running through ways that it could work. Changing the setting. Changing the family and political dynamics. And suddenly, the brick wall around my little supernatural horror idea started to crumble. Which left a mess. But I knew I had what I needed under the rubble.

It would seem, this was part of my brain’s grand master plan all along.

Brain: (sees me looking at him – don’t ask why I call my brain a him, I don’t know) See? I was right. Can a brain get a high five?
Me: You’re annoying.
Brain: You love me.
Me: Yes. So…are we really going to go this?
Brain: Why not? They’re both ready. You can handle it. You’re crazy enough.
Me: (blinks) Thank you.
Brain: You’re welcome. ^_^

So I’m going to try it. I have clearance. And for two days straight I obsessed (of course) over the magic words: “What if I’m wrong? I can’t do this. I feel sick.” And every time my gut whispered back, “It doesn’t matter. Do it anyway.”

Or in other words:

Quote II

16 Responses to Ready…Set…???

  1. Haha, I need that “Shut up and start writing” sign pinned to my brain. 😛 I don’t usually work on more than one draft at once, but I have done it before when two ideas both wanted to be written at the same time! I can’t start writing a book on purpose – normally I scribble bits down when I’m inspired, but don’t let myself start the draft until I’m done with my previous project and have a complete outline. But even when I’m working on something completely different, I have my other projects in the back of my mind, so sometimes random solutions to plot problems come up when I least expect it!

    • Right? It always happens when we’re not paying attention! It’s scientific. ^_^ I don’t have to have a finished outline, but I do need the previous project done, as well, and I at least need to be on the right path. The outline is done for one idea and I have 9 and a half chapters on the other. Both anomalies. I usually start with only 3 or 4 chapters outlined. Lol!

  2. That’s a great little picture. I’ve never been brave enough to write two stories at one time. It’s mostly due to my obsessive personality. That said, I wish you the best of luck with the two. I’m sure you can do it. The way I think of it is like in school you were always asked to work on multiple things at a time and keep them straight. If you could do it then you can do it now. Good luck!

    • Thank you! That’s a great analogy! I didn’t even think of that. We don’t have multitasking skills for no reason. ^_^ Last time I tried this, the stronger character’s personality bled over some onto the other one. *shakes head* I guess the good thing, at least, is that I noticed. Lol! And I saw it almost right away, so that’s comforting. 🙂

    • The madness! 😛 Actually, they’ve been in my head too long at this point, it wouldn’t work. But I did take elements of my NaNo project and merge them with my last story. First time I’ve ever successfully done that! I still lost the actual NaNo idea though.

  3. Your brain has SO MUCH more personality than mine. If I ask mine a question, it just stares at me with an empty, glazed over look.

    I have never been able to work on two stories at once…one of them ultimately ends up consuming all of me. I know it’s possible though because I hear of authors doing it all the time. I’m excited to see how it works out for you! Hopefully both stories continue to stay on their own side of the stage.

    And is it just me or are you baking bunnies in a crock pot in your third paragraph? Dude you are a BRUTAL writer. 😉

    • Lol! You’re awesome. ^_^
      I will keep you updated for sure. Last time I tried this, they were both in each other’s business and talking to each other! It was terrible, so, I hope they continue to keep to themselves, as well! It’s going good so far, what little I’ve done.

      But yeah, I totally cook my ideas in a crockpot. Slow cook ’em! ^_^ They do try to escape every chance they get, but I don’t mess around. Lol!

  4. There aren’t too many professions or pursuits around where its a good thing to have voices in your head. Thank God writing is one of them. Your brain cracks me up!!
    After finishing my first ms I started on the next. Got 3 chapters in and the whole time this other bloody character called Alice kept talking to me. So I put the WIP down and gave Alice the attention she was screaming for and my second ms was born. And I LOVE Alice.
    Good luck with writing 2 at once. Now I’ve met your brain, I reckon you can pull it off 🙂

    • ^_^ Thanks for the vote of confidence. ^_^
      So true about the voices, right? That’s so cool about Alice! I love it when that happens. That’s where one of the ideas came from. I was in my car going to work and this girl just started talking to me. And I just listened. 🙂

  5. I always think I can work on multiple projects at once. It rarely works out well. 😉

    In one way, it can be a blessing to have so many good story ideas bouncing around, because I think we’d REALLY start to worry if there was a chance we’d ever run on. On the flip side, I’ve totally been in that “…okay, so what now?” position. (And every now and then, I have the same experience as you with OMG MUST WRITE THIS NOWWWWW.)

    Then there are the times where everything is blah and I don’t want to write aaaaaanything, but let’s not talk about those….

    • I’ve never gotten this to work. I actually said I wasn’t going to try again. Lol! I do love that I have so many ideas because yeah, being in the opposite position is TERRible, but sometimes it’s like, can I have a break? Brain hurts. ^_^

      Right now, I’m totally in the “I wanted to be halfway done yesterday!” mood. And of course this is when I have a rare busy week. Lol!

  6. Two at once? My head would explode! Wouldn’t that be an interesting conversation?
    Although, today, in the shower, brain said that Victoria’s mother is in fact alive…which surprised me.

    Right now, brain and I are having an argument about cutting a character out of the WIP. Ughhhh.

    • Arguments with the brain are the bestest! I do like surprises. 🙂 Though I don’t know why brains are always so chatty in the shower. Lol! It’s probably because we’re not paying attention. ^_^

      My brain has been cocky of late, but I’ll forgive him if he can’t hack it. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if things continue to go well.

Hi! ^_^