Thursday, March 17, 2011

Choosing Our Story

Jeune femme cousant à la lueur d'une lampe--Georg Friedrich Kersting --1783-1847I have a hard time making decisions.

Not big decisions—those are pretty easy for me to make.  But smaller decisions, like what restaurant to choose for supper. 

I used to have a hard time deciding which story idea I’d work on next.  When you have a lot of ideas, it’s tough to choose between them.

And characters.  Think of  all the potential characters we’ve got up in our heads!  I’ve got a whole cast of them and they’re all auditioning with gusto, hoping for their chance to get in a book.

If you think of it, every single bit of our story is a choice.  What will the characters do next?  How will they react to it?  And then what happens?  How does it all resolve?

We can choose so many different paths for our story to take.

Right now, I’m starting a requested outline for the second book in the Southern quilting mystery series (and working on the second draft of the first book in the series).  I’ve got several ideas for it that I could go with.  Which should I decide on?

There are several different things I think about before choosing a storyline.

The first is the reader.  I know my genre well and I think about which aspects of the genre readers love the most.  I work to incorporate those in the story.

After that, I think about which story I’d have the most fun writing.  Is it something I’d have fun with?  Is it something my readers could relate to and have fun with, too?

Is there a plot that I can easily see the different possibilities with?

Is there a story with more potential for conflict than another?

Is there a story that will give my protagonist more challenges, internal conflict,  and more opportunities for growth?

Is there a storyline with more of a marketable hook than another?

Is there a story idea that requires more research than another?  Do I have time to do that extra research in a thorough way, or should I choose a simpler idea?

Sometimes my plot ideas come with characters included. Is there one that has more interesting supporting characters than the others?  

Have you got lots of different story ideas?  How do you choose which to focus on?