Months after my post-contest meltdown I am still trying to reincorporate fiction writing into my life. While I’ve gotten better at scheduling my days and getting my non-fiction writing submitted, fiction doesn’t quite have the priority yet. I’m still working on that. As I do, I’m also working my way through “Plot & Structure” by James Scott Bell.
Last month I told you about my genre revelation (read it here). Today we’re moving on to the next phase of my recovery, which coincides with the next part of Bell’s book.
Nurturing Your Baby – Nurture Your Plot Idea
It’s not enough to have a couple of characters in mind for a romance novel. There are millions of romances out there – something has to set your story apart. Once you have an idea, Bell challenges you to answer a few questions about it:
1. Has this type of story been done before? (Almost always, the answer is yes)
2. Is the setting ordinary?
3. Are the characters you’re thinking of made of old stock?
4. Is this story “big enough” to grab a substantial number of readers?
5. Is there some other element you can add that is fascinating?
I made myself answer these questions, but not with a simple yes or no. Those answers didn’t challenge me to think through my plot, so I expanded the questions:
1. How can I make my romance unique?
2. How can I make my setting less ordinary?
3. How can I make my “old stock” characters more interesting?
4. How can I raise the stakes to make my story “big enough” to grab readers?
5. What fascinating elements can I add to my story?
Once I had rephrased the questions, I decided to come up with at least three answers to each one. This really challenged me to not just decide whether or not I had a good starting point, but to actually make it a good starting point.
I still haven’t started writing the manuscript yet, but I’m getting there. My goal is to finish Bell’s book this month and start writing in September. I think I can make that, but if I can’t I’m not going to worry. I’m more concerned with finishing Bell’s book than with starting another manuscript that needs an overhaul.
Question: How do you nurture your ideas?