I don’t know about you guys, but when I first started writing, I tackled the most difficult story my little teenage brain could think of. I have no doubt that it was a good idea. However, the execution was poorly done. At that time in my writing career, I was not a good enough writer to bring that story to life. I know I’m still not a good enough writer for it. I could write it, but it would be as good as if I wrote it five or ten years from now, when I have several novels already under my belt.
I think that may be what has happened with PPPOM. Yes, I plotted it fantastically, but after several failed attempts at explaining the plot to people, I figure that maybe it isn’t the story I should write at the moment. I think that maybe I was wanting to write so badly that I just took the first idea that looked good and committed to it. Now, I think it was the wrong decision. It’s a gut feeling.
I lucked out with the steampunk novel. It was a right time, right place sort of thing. It just so happened that the story was challenging enough to help me grow as a writer, but it was within my reach to write effectively. My next project needs to do the same thing—something ambitious, yet attainable.
Now, as you may know, I have several book ideas floating around in this head of mine. Some of them, I deemed not-so-good, and even fewer, good. A total of twenty-five novels (that have premises). Whether they are good or not depends a lot on my gut feeling. Not any writer can write any book. Some ideas work better for certain authors. I could just delete any story that I think doesn’t fit my bill, but I keep them in my Not-So-Good folder for story fodder. Maybe an idea I had for that regency romance might work better in that time-travel adventure, or the main character from that space opera might work better in the epic fantasy I haven’t thought of yet. Even though these stories failed, I can still use their bits and pieces in the future.
My biggest problem is figuring out what to write next. That time-travel adventure is calling my name, but I don’t know if I have the experience to write it well yet. It’s definitely ambitious (as any time-travel novel is), and I think that I can manage to write it effectively. But there is this niggling feeling that I’m not quite ready. Once I determine whether that niggle is mild apprehension or stomach-turning doubt, I’ll be able to determine whether or not it’s the story I should write. With the steampunk novel, it was mild apprehension. With the epic fantasy I started however many years ago, it’s the doubt. I think that the time-travel adventure is somewhere in the middle, but until I figure that I out, I can’t exactly start writing.
The only think I can do now is plot. I already know that I can condense the time-travel adventure into one sentence, easily conveyed to readers: “Moonlighting as a time-traveling thief, a charismatic archaeologist voyages through time, stealing newly minted artifacts of the past and staging dig sites to discover in the present.” All I can do is see where the story takes me. If it turns out to be something that I can write (without becoming as convoluted and confusing as PPPOM), then by-golly, I’ll write it. The more I think about it, the more that the niggling feeling leans toward mild apprehension.
Now I just need a codename…
How do you decide which story is right for you? Do you keep your “bad” ideas, or do you throw them away? Have you ever started a project and realized somewhere along the way that it wasn’t the story you wanted to write?