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Are you hestitant to use your best ideas?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Kasper Hviid, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

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    Sometimes, I have an idea that, wow, I seriously can't imagine how over-the-top fantastic it is!! Often it's a non-fiction thing where I have a really solid metaphor or argument. And I feel that this simply is too grand to use in a mere forum post. I have this notion that my ideas are one-time only. That it would be wasted if I use it prematurely. Thus, I hold back.

    But upon a bit of self-reflection, I feel that this is the wrong way about it. If I am okay with stealing others' ideas, I should be okay with stealing my own, too. Ideas don't get "used up".

    What do you guys think? Do you hold back on your ideas?
     
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I was a little like this when I started writing. I didn't know what I could or couldn't do, and I didn't want to "waste" my good ideas by messing about and not making my idea justice.
    I came up with something else, called it a practice idea, and wrote it. It taught me a lot, and then I moved on to other stories and other ideas.

    Those grand ideas I had back then, I'm not quite sure what they all were. I remember a few, but I'm no longer nearly as excited about them.
     
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  3. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    There's two different kinds of ideas for me in this context.

    There's the it's so amazing this will be my novel which will rival lord of the rings type of idea. I used to think such an idea existed. And I had one or two floating around in my head. What happened with them was that their amazingness sort of disappeared over the years and they now just seem kind of meh. I still keep them around and I might use some of them in one form or another at some point.

    I don't hold these kinds of ideas sacred anymore. If it's a good idea and I'm exited about it now, then I have to do something with it (in the near future at least, now, I'm working on a different project). Ideas are cheap and everything's already been done before. So there's no point in holding back ideas because they're so awesome.

    The other kind of idea is the idea I'm not a good enough writer for at the moment. I have a few ideas floating around in my head which are more dificult to write. For instance, one where the main character is a more complicated person and will be more difficult to make sympathetic. At the moment I like the idea a lot. And I think I will get around to writing it. But I need more practise first before I can pull it off. So, that is an idea I've shelved until the time is right.
     
    Nighty_Knight likes this.
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Pull the trigger early and often.

    A while ago I wrote down a few writing aphorisms because I thought they'd help me. This is one of them. It means do the exact opposite of what you're talking about, and use your best ideas soon, instead of hiding them, saving them, building up to them. I'll give you three reasons for this mantra:

    1 - Your ideas are only as strong as your enthusiasm for them. Sell them to your audience before that enthusiasm dies.
    2 - It's not about one good idea. It's about learning the skills to develop one good idea after another because a book takes hundreds of them, not one.
    3 - A good idea has a payoff. Deliver on that payoff and hook your audience already.

    Of course, I listed this with my aphorisms because at some point I was debating on whether to do the opposite. Do I hold off on some big reveal to the last chapter like everyone else? No, I decided to mix things up and play it early. And you know what? It didn't take long for me to find some other "big reveal" to use later. Things have a way of escalating like that.
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Yes. What Devor said.

    And anyway, how are you going to know if your ideas are great or not? The *only* way to know is to speak them, share them with others. It's like saying you have a great story but you don't want to write it. It will only matter when it's shared; that's what gives it value.
     
  6. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Agree with the guys. My monitor and the side of my computer are covered in Posties full of "fantastic ideas." But I haven't written them, yet, so they haven't been tested. Best way to do that is to write it. When I find a place in my WIP where the idea fits, down comes the Postie and onto the page it goes. Sometimes my writing partners laugh and take it away, again, but most of the time they fly.

    Find a good, safe place to keep your ideas and review them from time to time. You'll amaze yourself and maybe get more words on paper.
     
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    The worst part of writing a “fantastic” idea is they tend to peter out or become ordinary, heh heh. Not writing them leaves them pristine and beautiful for a time, potential unmolested by reality. A fantastic idea is never fantastic until it’s written, so write it.
     
  8. bob1thousand

    bob1thousand Minstrel

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    Yes. I feel like I should wait until I'm better to do it.
     
  9. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Gotto go with Devor on this. Strike when the iron is hot. Use up those ideas and get them out there. Other ideas will come, and then use those up too. Waiting for a better time is to wait forever.
     
  10. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    I'm actually finding that the more I write (and do writing related things), the more ideas I'm excited about I get. Last night I finished the last round of editing on a novella and now I'm ready to start on the next piece. Over the past few weeks especially I've bounced the story idea around in my head and now I have a decent idea about the world, characters and bits of the story. I'm eager to get to the worldbuilding, plotting and writing parts for this story.

    However, at the same time there's three or four more ideas floating around in the back of my head which every now and then push to the front screaming "I'm a great idea too! Write me instead!"

    That in itself is already a good reason for me not to hold ideas back. There's already too many to begin with. And if I don't write them it only gets worse...
     
    jacksimmons likes this.
  11. I recently finished reading a book that had been, I learned, in progress for fifteen years! The author had the core idea for the book straight off. Began writing and researching, then set it aside awhile. Came back to it, moved it around, set it aside again, changed the voice, the tone, the POV etc, added to it and subtracted from it. . . but kept coming back to it because he never lost his faith in the idea. He wrote other novels in the interim, but it took that long to polish that one idea into the finished book.

    IF he had held that idea back for all those years, it's very unlikely he could have written the book he did. Actually, that's been a theme for quite a few of my favorite books. The author required a long period to get the elements to fit, but the main idea at the core of the book stayed the same throughout the long, drawn out process.
     
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  12. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    There is that... I suggest writing it, but with no particular timeline, heh heh.

     
  13. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

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    One piece of advice, very important: Always write down your ideas. Write them down so vividly that you, once you re-read your idea, can get why exactly this idea is awesome. Some disagree, of course, but for me, this is one of those basic things that I wish that I had known sooner.
     
    Nighty_Knight likes this.
  14. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    This is something I've heard of, and I know a lot of people recommend it, but it's just not for me.
    I'm not organized enough to keep track of where I put my notes, or to note things down in the first place, and I don't really worry about it.

    My thinking is that if an idea is good enough, I will either remember it, or it will come back. If not, there will be other ideas. :)
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  15. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    I'm more concerned that I'm not a skilled enough writer to pull them off so I hold back. Or that I'll screw it up. But you have to remember, just about every idea has been had or said before whether it's fiction or non-fiction. That subject has bee touched upon before. And often you think an idea is fantastic because it's something that interests you, but for others it might not sound so appealing. The only way to find out if your idea is as amazing and you think it is, is to share it with other people. As writers we tend to be self critical and have a low esteem but it can easily swing the other way and we can become too inflated with "fantastic" ideas. That's why people share the plot of their story and get disheartened when others aren't as excited as they are.

    And a great idea is pretty meaningless if the writing is poor. So I try not to get caught up in how original, fantastic or earth-shattering my ideas are, because its how you pull that off that matters. I think it's better to write something basic and write it well than write an off the charts idea but do it badly.
     
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  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I would spend more time searching for my damned note that it was worth, heh heh.

     
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  17. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    A truly great story idea inspires lots of equally great ideas.

    Write them down and keep the ideas flowing.
     
  18. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I saw a thing a while ago that was footage of (I think) Orson Scott Card playing a game called "100 Ideas in a Minute" or something like that. Just rapid fire creativity. The point is, they got 100 ideas in a single minute. Ideas are like that. They're just the starting point. They're potato chips. I know a lot of new writers live in fear of their ideas being stolen.

    Let me tell you a little story.

    We've been developing an epic fantasy trilogy for about 20 years, just poking at it now and then. It's about a family of assassins who suddenly find themselves kingmakers. The family's name?

    Dameron.

    Our idea was never stolen. We waited too long to jump on that iron while it was hot and now we need a new name.

    The point is, no one is going to steal your idea, no matter how awesome it is, because it's nothing more than a nascent thought. An imagining. Give me paper and then maybe we'll talk.
     
  19. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    What's a Dameron?
     
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  20. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Dear sir, get thee to a movie house.

    Poe Dameron is one of the three new main characters in the new Star Wars Trilogy. And me, being a huge Star Wars fan, just about died right there.
     
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