Sunday 17 May 2015
Making Your Ideas Work: When You Start Off Too Small - The Creative Process
Making Your Ideas Work: When You Start Off Too Small
I wrote a piece recently about what to do when your idea is too big (found here) and I promised that I'd look at the other end of the spectrum as well, which is where this piece comes in. What do you do when your idea is a great one, but it's tiny? It's so small that you're not sure the box you want to put it in will even notice that it's there. You can't stretch it without worrying about it snapping in two and no matter how much you think about it and try to brainstorm your way into making it larger, nothing seems to work. If you're a planner like me, you'll usually be aware of this before you put pen to paper, but sometimes even the best planners have great big plans for ideas that are just too small. So, here are some options for if you choose to try and make a little idea into a big story.
#1 - FEED REGULARLY AND ALLOW TO GROW
One thing that works for me when an idea is too small to support itself in a full length novel, is to set it to one side, check in on it occasionally and see if it grows on its own. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but as long as you keep it earmarked for a possible book, then you give it the chance to feed itself and fill up to the point where it fits in the box without the need for packing to balance it out.
#2 - MARRY TWO TOGETHER
Sometimes an idea won't do enough growing to ever be considered large enough to fill a book, in those cases you can sometimes alter it to be a small arc in one of your current WIPs, or in a new project where you take the bare bones of another story and use the smaller idea to help that one grow too. It doesn't always work that way because sometimes you'll find that an idea is too specific to marry it with another without losing the plot points you wanted to create.
And finally, #3 - LEAVE IT AS IS
There are no rules when it comes to how long a book is. Well, there are rules, but there are also awesome short stories and just because an idea you have is too small to fill fifty-thousand words, that doesn't mean that it should be shelved and/or never used. Some ideas are just too awesome to do that to and so a lot of great authors have taken a lot of smaller ideas and put them together in a collection of short stories. Just because they're in the same "book" doesn't mean that they all have to intertwine, though generally speaking they usually all share a common genre, such as detective or horror or fantasy. It's a great way to use those unfulfilled stories and turn them into a collection of awesome short ones.
However you choose to get your ideas to work for you, remember that while there are rules as to how things should be done in the writing world, part of being a writer is knowing which rules you can bend, which ones you can outright break and which ones you need to stick to no matter what. When you have that worked out you can make any idea - big or small - work for you to create the story that you see in your head. After all, that's what writing is about, sharing the impossible, creating from nothing and sending your ideas out into the world and hoping they soar to the clouds. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
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