No, I don’t mean that comment Mr Bloggs made that ever so slightly pissed you off, and you let it stew to the point you rip out his throat the next time you see him.
I mean the ideas.
All those tiny scenes that pop into your head. That character who speaks so loudly, all you can hear is their voice. The streams of dialogue that keep you awake at night often enough to make you a borderline schizophrenic.
And by that, I don’t mean ignore them. By all means, jot down what you have, make notes (if that’s how you work), or plan the story (again, if that’s how you work). But for goodness sake, don’t go straight from a seedling of an idea to belting the entire thing out from start to finish.
I did exactly that. My first novel I ever wrote, I had the idea, I wrote like the devil himself was on my tail, and didn’t stop until I’d reached the end and needed arm transplants and an overdose of ibuprofen for the cramps in my fingers. Then came the second novel I ever wrote. It had to be written. The first had been left open and incomplete. So once again, I gripped that pen like my life depended on it and drove myself to exhaustion. You’d think I’d have taken a break then, right? Nuh-uh. I went right on and made the bloody series into a trilogy.
Three novels in six weeks.
At the time, I thought they ROCKED! Now I realise they’re all pretty weak.
So, what changed?
Well, the idea for the fourth novel I ever wrote (which, I’ll reveal, is DARKNESS & LIGHT, my debut novel due out this year) came to me not long after I’d started the third in my rubbish trilogy.
I didn’t rush off to write it. I didn’t toss the other stuff aside. I allowed it to stew and formulate, and listened to the conversations happening between the characters, took time to understand certain scenes, and got to know who I planned to write about a little better before I began.
Want further evidence that I am (unusually) talking sense here?
I’m now writing the third in the Holloway Pack Series. The idea for this novel came to me in December of 2009, whilst I was writing the second story. In December of 2009, I 100% planned for the tale to be led by the same MC as the first two books. Thank goodness I didn’t dive right into creating it. Thank goodness I took time out of slamming out the tales to try rewriting my first ever (you know, the crappy one) novel, and to join writers and critiquers websites, while I took a little step back and attempted to improve my skills.
Why am I thankful?
Because I realised I had it all wrong. If I’d written the story from the initially intended POV, it would have been a shambles. I’d have been restricting myself BIG TIME, would not have been giving the story its full due, which means it would not have had the chance to reach its full potential. When I figured it out, choosing the new MC came easy. The choice was an obvious one. The dude is perfect for the role. And it gives my readers a fresh perspective on the characters of my series.
When this all clicked inside my brain, it was like the sun shone down on only me and heavenly angels sang Hallelujah to rejoice. My latest NiP, book number 3, is about 65/70% complete, and I am 100% happy with it. No regrets. And I have no doubt those regrets would have been there if I hadn’t paused to let the idea stew a while.
How about y’all? Agree? Disagree? How much patience do you have from when a seedling is planted to watering and watching it grow?
Oh, and in case y’all interested, only 87 days remain until the release of DARKNESS & LIGHT!<<Hehehe—sorry, couldn’t resist. 🙂


9 thoughts on “LET IT STEW!

  1. great post!

    My 3 stories in the Chronicles of Fallhollow Saga have been simmering for almost 8 years. Only in the last 18 months have the voices, plot and dialogue come together to make something I’m really proud of. It wasn’t rushed. I did like you . . . listen to everyone, all those little voices. I spoke to them and listened to their thoughts, their inflections. I ‘saw’ their mannerisms. I discovered the things that made them tick. I submerged myself into another world. I put myself in the shoes of my main character, a 15-year old boy – and I allowed David to show me how he felt about being the one responsible for starting a war. I’ve experienced his ups and downs, his highs, his lows, and I think for authors to make their writing great, they have to really live with their characters to the point they are no longer words on a page but real, tangible people that you know and love. Only then will the writing come across as fun, believable and something truly unique and special.

    I can’t wait to read your book! I am positively thrilled for you.

  2. Well, you’ve seen my blog right? 😐

    Apparently, I love letting them simmer like I’m making soup for the world. I think that’s why I haven’t started anything new… and I’m starting to think NaNo makes me leave it unfinished but I can’t stop…help…. *whimper*

  3. LOL, Kastil. You’ll get them finished. You either have to wait until they’re ready to lead the way, or take the reins and make yourself write even when you think you haven’t got it in you. If you have the general idea for the start and finish of the story, you’re halfway there 🙂

  4. Great post, Julie! I can only let it stew so long before my imagination boils over onto the page–maybe a day tops. You’ve seen some of my first drafts, so you know sometimes that’s not quite long enough. 🙂

  5. LOL, Jo. But you know, if you have the characters formed and the storyline in your head from start to finish, you’re good to go–small things like minor inconsstencies and plot holes are fixable with a major round of edits in the second draft 🙂

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