I have writing friends who have more ideas than they will ever have time to write.
The fact that they remain my friends is proof that they have an abundance of wonderful qualities which offset that overflow of ideas.
Coming up with ideas for books is a painful process for me (and my poor long-suffering agent). It takes an abundance of time, a mountain of emails, and more chocolate than I am willing to admit to in writing. Making sure that the idea is one that will support an entire book is even more involved.
I’ve tried to hack this issue by simply diving in and writing with the merest glimmer of an idea. No go. I do fine for the first few scenes, then boom. I still have no idea where I’m going or what happens next.
Which means that, before I can write anything, I must have a synopsis.
A synopsis, for those who don’t know, is a plan for the entire book. Writing one means you have to know what your characters will be doing – and, often more important, WHY they will be doing it – for at least the major points in the plot. When you finish writing one, you weep tears of joy, because now you have a solid direction and know where you’re going. (Until you get a flash of insight halfway through writing the first draft and realize you got everything wrong and even though you THOUGHT your character was screwed up because of parental issues, it’s REALLY because of what happened at her junior prom.)
Best of all, you can now share your synopsis with your Poor Long-Suffering Agent, who can let you know what’s working (YAY!) and what still needs work (CRAP). And then you go back to the drawing board. But at least this time, the board is smaller, because you’re only focused on that one non-working point.
And you find a fix. Which is great.
Until you realize that your amazing fix for Plot Point C will have a ripple effect on Plot Points A, B, D, and E. So now you have to change them. And those changes ripple out. And so on, and so on.
This is the point I’m at now. I have a concept. I have some unique twists on it. But there’s one major issue I still need to fix, so as of this writing, I am back to the (smaller, far more manageable) drawing board.
And, of course, back to the chocolate.