Saturday, July 3, 2010

Narrowing Down Our Project

blog71 The past week, I’ve been at Harbor Island, South Carolina, enjoying the beach with my parents and children. Through the magic of WiFi, I’ve also been at my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and other places, too. Now I’m packing up to head back to North Carolina.

I’ve got a couple of books to write in the next 6-9 months, and sometimes my mind jumps around from favorite idea to favorite idea. At least mine are all in the same genre (well, a few aren’t, but they’re relegated to a Word file for future reference), but it still can make it difficult to decide which story to tell for which book.

I watched my daughter at the beach on Friday. She perfectly exemplified the problem most writers face when they can’t decide which story to write. First she watched her brother body surf in the waves—and she decided to go back to the beach house to get the boogie board.

When she got back from her long trek back to the house, her brother looked like he was having a lot of fun just floating in the water. The waves weren’t so great, he told her. She spent another 10 minute roundtrip going back to the beach house for her inner tube.

When she was back at the beach again, she saw her brother busily making the best sandcastle you’ve ever seen. Yes, you guessed it—she went right back to the house to get all the buckets, shovels, molds, etc. to help him make the castle.

I let her do all this…because I kept thinking how tired she was going to be at the end of the day. :) Yes, she was going to sleep really well.

But we’re doing the same thing when we don’t commit to a project---we’re wasting our energy and creativity running back and forth on a story that doesn’t need to be written yet.

And we have only so many hours in the day to write—spreading that time over multiple projects really doesn’t make sense unless you’re a freelancer or write both nonfiction and fiction.

So, here’s what I look at when I’m trying to decide which pet project I should work on next:

Protagonist: Which protagonist can carry my story best? Which is better-developed?

Characters: Which project have secondary characters that are more appealing?

Plot: Which storyline can I easily see? Which one has more conflict and more depth?

Market: Which story (it pains me to say it, but you sometimes have to think this way) will appeal to a greater number of readers? Which has more of a hook to sell to a publisher?

Series potential: This may be genre-book specific---but is there a story that lends itself to more than one novel?

How do you decide which of your ideas to write first?

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