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Monday, October 24, 2011

Finding Ideas Isn't The Problem

Come here. Yeah, you. I want to show you something.

You see this? This is what the inside of my story folder looks like. Each of those folders has details on a book... except the ones labeled by genre like "Sci-Fi" which looks like this inside...

Word documents with brief descriptors rather than titles. Each has an outline. Most have a few chapters written. One of those has half a novel. Almost all of them have the potential to turn into a series. And a series folder looks something like this...

Data points, pictures, and each novel has it's own folder for drafts, notes, editing feedback, and timelines.

Do you see my problem? It's not that I can't find ideas for what to write. It's that I have new ideas on a daily basis and I already have enough to last a lifetime or two. It takes me a month, bare minimum, to finish a draft. Editing or writing, it doesn't matter, I need 4-6 weeks to focus on that one project.

A finished novel takes... 10 drafts? 12? I really don't know because I've never polished a novel to QUERIED or SOLD.

A novella takes 3-4 months to go from rough draft to submission, but again, I haven't sold any novellas yet (fingers crossed for good news).

A short story takes two months to write and edit. Microfiction (under 5k) takes less.

My count as of Saturday was 71 novels outlined or in some progress. I think ten of those are three-quarters done or better. SEVENTY-ONE!!! Even if I did nothing but work on these ideas I wouldn't finish until I was 100.

The only solution it to freeze time, or learn to write/edit a lot faster. Freezing times sounds like the most realistic option...

So next time someone asks me where to find a story idea because they want to be an author, I'm going to offer to sell them a plot.


  1. Well I can see we have opposite problems. I have no organization and you are organized to the hilt. I had also considered selling story ideas. Somebody would probably buy them. I learned to type in high school which got me a couple neat jobs in the Army. One job was as a clerk. I used one file, miscellanieous(sp)where I put everything. Finally got smart and went to the library and got a book on filing. Went from seven filing cabinets to three, but still have problems. Do you file background info with the story or in a background file as it could be used for several projects. Best idea I have seen is the printer who does my business cards has a monster monitor he can have twelve to fifteen open pages on and can drag them and move them. I like that concept. I make hard copies of everthing so I can see several pages at once. It works better for me. Sorry this is so long, but I like your system. Need to learn more about computers I can see.

  2. My folder goes: STORY... GENRE (for everything that's just ideas and sketches).

    For stories with more substance it's: STORY... SERIES TITLE (usually with timelines and pictures pertinent to the whole series)... TITLE (all drafts and research relevant to only that book)

  3. Wow, you do have a LOT of ideas. I have sort of the same problem. I have a lot of completed novels, but some of them are just so bad and need so much work, that I just don't have the time to fix them. And most of them are historical romance books, which have a lot of historical data missing. :P Then of course, I have like three romance books that are like half way done but I stopped because I figured it would go on for like ever, so yeah. Then I have short story anthologies and one erotic novella that I work on from time to time. So much work, so little time!

    I keep all of my ideas in one small notebook, that I almost lost. Which caused me to almost have a panic attack (not really but you can imagine the scene where I was tossing everything everywhere. Not pretty). I have about ten ideas, some fragmented, some not. Most though I have an outline for, like Angel Diaries 2 which is the most detailed since that's the one I'm going to right next. I usually have just points or ideas that I write down as I walk my merry way. I'll be like Ooohh! Brilliant idea popped into my head and I'll text it into my phone then put it in my sacred notebook.

    Omg, you are SUPER fast with completing novels. I take a year, bare minimum, to finish a complete draft. Then of course editing takes like a month with an editor, probably more depending on the length. I wish I could just wip out novels like that! I would have had all of YA books done this past summer! :P

    Anyway, sorry for the loooong comment. It just got me thinking about all the backburners that I have. Thanks for sharing!


  4. With enough trust maybe a group could decide on a pen name and pass books and ideas back and forth, with suggestions for where things should go or how they might work. Sort of like a critique thing but with shared glory if they get something done. Or at least a credit in the opening for helping each other complete and idea. Would like to start a writer's club at my library and get a group together, but I am not organized enough..to organize it...