On Trusting Your Story Ideas

Photo credit: Pimthida on Flickr
I used to toss a lot of my story ideas.

Sometimes, they never made it past infancy, just a scribbled note I'd look at later, grimace, and say nah before moving on to something else. Sometimes I'd experiment and write a chapter or two before losing interest, or I'd plot the entire thing and write a chapter or two before realizing this wasn't going to work.

Because of that, I didn't trust my ideas, not really. I knew chances were more likely than not that they wouldn't work out, that I'd lose interest or the idea would fall flat on its face. It's why, to this day, I consider a WIP just an "experiment" until I've hit 10,000 words.

But it occurred to me recently, though I wrote three manuscripts last year, and I'm in the middle of one now and have another I want to write before the year is out, I haven't tossed an idea out in a while.

Part of that, surely, comes from the fact that three of those—one I wrote last year, the one I'm working on now, and the one I want to work on next—were born from proposals, one to my publisher and one to something else. Writing the proposal for Into the Black and The Rising Gold last year, I was pretty scared of what would happen if I began writing and things fell apart—but the proposal, and the commitment to the proposal when my publisher accepted the sequels, has forced me to trust those ideas from the onset in a way I never had before.

Luckily—or maybe because of this forced trust—Into the Black's first draft went off without a hitch. I had a blast writing that book and it was equally enjoyable revising it. I can honestly say it's probably my favorite thing I've ever written. And now as I draft The Rising Gold with that same sort of confidence, I haven't once doubted whether the story would hold up as I wrote, and while I have some other insecurities with that book, there's no question in my mind that I'll finish it (which is good, since not finishing it isn't really an option at this point).

Similarly, the other manuscript I wrote a proposal for went much the same way. Though I've only drafted a chapter of it, that chapter came so easily—it flowed beautifully and the voice just clicked and I know when I finally get back to it, I won't have a problem picking up where I left off. I'm confident in that toddler of an idea in a way I hadn't been before.

I think part of this may be that I know what I like to write now. The Rising Gold is my seventeenth manuscript, and at this point in my writing journey, I'm very clear about the things I want to be writing about, even if how those things fit into a story-shaped thing isn't always immediately obvious. But I know the things that excite me, and the types of characters I want to populate my worlds with. So maybe having that foundation clear, of knowing what I enjoy writing and what I want to do more of, has allowed me to avoid the ideas that I'll get bored with and mosey away from.

I'm not 100% sure when the shift happened, but I am, slowly, learning to trust my ideas more than I have in the past. And it's a journey I look forward to continuing, one step at a time.

Do you trust your story ideas? 

Twitter-sized bite:
Do you trust your story ideas? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

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