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Story starter... too many ideas...

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Gribba, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. Gribba

    Gribba Troubadour

    Hi, not sure if this is the place to ask but here goes...
    I often have way too many ideas and start a new story and then another and so on. I would love to finish one of the stories one day. Anyone else have this problem?! ;)
    I am trying a new thing now, I have gone back to many of the stories and considered if I could merge one of my 'starter' stories with another one and make it into one epic story instead.

    Have any of you tried that and if so how did that work out for you?
    And what should one be careful of when doing such a thing?
    Or is it just completely crazy and should be left alone at any cost?

    DragonOfTheAerie and Saigonnus like this.
  2. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    If the stories are thematically similar, I would say go for it. I would make a copy of each one separate, as a backup, just in case it doesn't work out, then start a new file for the merged story. That way I could cut and paste whatever I wanted from the two files and just do a quick edit of the story. It would minimize what would needed to be written/rewritten to blend the stories.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. That's kinda how my current project (which i've been working on for 4 years) came about (combining lots of stories into one). I say go for it.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I just wrote about this to another member. The thing you need to do is to finish a story. Finish four or five. Keep finishing them until you get a good idea of what it takes for you, personally, to write a story all the way to done.

    If that means merging old stories into a new one, that's fine, but you might be doing nothing more than starting over yet again. The late stages of writing are the hardest, which is why so many people begin but never end.

    Another thing you should look at is this: do you have several unfinished stories, or do you have several ideas? An idea is not a story. Another reason why many people don't finish is because while they had a nifty idea, they did not have a story. If that's the case, starting over probably isn't going to get you anywhere because you'll simply be repeating established behavior.

    If one of those unfinished works really does have the elements of a story (characters, plot, arc, setting, theme), then you should put the others in a drawer and finish that one. Not because it's a great story. Not because you'll write it well, but only because you will finish it. That way, when a good story does come along, you'll know what to do with it.
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    I agree with Skip on much of what he says, but I will also add... it depends on what your ideas are. A lot of ideas people talk about are scenes, not full fledged stories. A bunch of full fledged stories would be very difficult to merge, a bunch of scene ideas, on the other hand, can certainly be workable in particular if they have similar themes. Meshing them can be good fun, and lead to something you love. But meshing full fledged stories, is more apt to create a convoluted mess that ends up "epic" in a bad way.

    Some of the more interesting things in my "in edit" book were separate ideas and flashes of inspiration, but they weren't part of the story I was working on. But, squishing elements of the idea around and meshing them with the greater story can certainly lead to some unexpected and cool points.
  6. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hi, Gribba. Have you considered isolating the "right" idea by choosing either by theme, character, or situation? Out of all your ideas, probably one stands out stronger than the others. Is it a theme you'd like to explore? Or a character in a certain state of emotional being? Or a situation you find intriguing? Choose one and stay only with that one. Often times we end up mixing a lot of ideas into one story and getting overwhelmed. I have found that story is much more powerful when you choose one idea and explore that fully. It gives the entire story more focus and drive.
  7. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    Ah, I am not sure whether I'm reading this right, but let me try to answer how I interpreted the question, anyways.

    I had an idea for a sort of Robin Hood type of outlaw character. I really felt strongly about this character, but didn't have a plot or story. I knew he had a brother that he felt responsible for.

    I also had an idea about a demon gate, a spell that was cast that kept the world of demons locked away from the real world.

    I also had an idea about a one-eyed priest who got cast out of his church.

    So...none of the ideas were really good on their own, because they all lacked something, but as soon as I put them together, I felt like I had a good short story. Now, the short story is about a man and his younger brother, who run with a band of outlaws. Their ultimate goal is to open the demon gateway, knowing it will unleash evil entities into the world. Why would they do that? Because fifteen years earlier, when the two were just boys, their father (a priest) and eight others were manipulated or forced into giving their immortal souls as part of the ritual to close the gateway. Their father's spirit cannot rest if they don't free it, and the MC always thought his father left, but when he learned the truth, all the pain he felt as a young man came to a critical point, and he decided he'd free the souls of the priests sacrificed to keep the world safe. And he's teamed up with the one-eyed priest to get them into the temple to do it.

    Okay, so maybe not the most sympathetic character in the world, or the most heroic goal (HA!), but the story is fun and I like the characters, so I wrote it by combining ideas I had that weren't each their own story.

    If you have many stories...well just start working on them one at a time until you can get them finished and off your mind. I have a hundred short stories just sitting on my computer, unedited, so I definitely understand the way it feels. But the thing is, they all have beginnings and endings...I COULD finish them by editing them if I had something to do with them, I suppose. But since I don't, I have decided they're not worth my time to work on them anymore right now. And that's totally okay.

    If you have a bunch of open and unfinished novels in various degrees of completeness...well, I have that, too, but I think it's important to finish those one at a time. Mine are technically finished first drafts, but again, I can't do anything with them because they all require rewrites, and I'm working on one of those now.

    So, decide what you have. One of the things I did was I took dozens of post-it notes and I wrote each story that was good on the little paper. I wrote the title, what state it was in (rough draft, unfinished, second draft, edited, etc.) and then I wrote what I needed to do to it (write an ending, rewrite, final edit, etc.) and then I stuck them all over my massive bathroom mirror.

    I find that being organized helps me not feel anxious about all the things I "still have to do" and that's great! Perhaps also consider making a couple special folders on your computer. I have folders called: Inspirations, where I detail ideas for stories I would like to write; Short Stories, where I put all my accumulated shorts, regardless of their completeness; Novels; Short Collections, where I grouped certain short stories into related themes, on the off chance I ever want to make an anthology or collection, and Non-Writing, where I put in things I've copied and pasted into documents like Victorian slang, old laws, steampunk photos, pictures of horses, ship statistics, and everything else I thought was interesting and I might use one day.

    Hope my rambling gave you some ideas. :)
  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    I'm with the others. You may have an interesting scene idea, but perhaps not a story idea. When that happens you may write furiously for three or four chapters then slow to a crawl because the idea is down and now you haven't considered where to go with it, or it can't hold up an entire novel.

    When I get what I think is a good story idea I DON'T start writing.

    Instead I do a version of the Snowflake method:

    How To Write A Novel Using The Snowflake Method

    To make sure I actually have a story idea and not just a cool scene idea.
  9. Gribba

    Gribba Troubadour

    Thanks all, for your answers and advice, I see what you mean with it being just scene idea and how one can use that, incorporating it into a story that is already planned for the most part.

    Most of my stories have the history and the rules of the world in place. Many of the characters are also ready and then the main story plot is set but the (chapters) path to get there is in various degrees of completion.

    example; I have this world where magic is dominant and everywhere and constant part of people's lives, in different ways and amount, depending on status and abilities. The MC is this young woman that is very ill but it turns out, she is very powerful magically and in order to survive (not be ill anymore) she has to suck/pull magic into herself (for reasons I am not going into). Taking magic from her surroundings or other people with time, she needs more and more and well it is a problem.
    I had a plan for her and her friends how they can fix the problem, that then unfortunately creates a bigger problem that they then need to fix.

    In another story I have similar amount of work/plans for the world, plot and characters ready but in that story this one character is completely immune to magic and in a world with fair amount of magic he is a strange thing. His story is set and planed and so on but then I thought what if… what if I mix these two together, two worlds, changed into two continents instead. Twisting the plot of the other story so that this character, without magic will battle the one that is sucking the life/magic out of the world and he has to kill her, she is not evil or doing this for any ill reason but she has to die…

    See what I mean?

    Chesterama, yes I have two stories that stand out SO much, that they haunt me everyday and in my dreams… but I think I am a bit afraid to go for it.
    I am afraid, I will fail and will not do them justice, so I try to convince myself to go for the other stories instead, thinking it is easier for me.
    Don't tell anyone this, I am still not ready to face it. ;)
  10. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    Saving your best ideas is a perfectly fine tactic. It's what we call a "golden idea" and many people start writing an idea they love so much, and they don't do it justice, and they spend years on it, trying to perfect it, rather than practicing writing techniques...and it does become frustrating and disappointing.

    I've never had a golden idea, so I can't really relate to the feeling, but I wrote several novels just for my own amusement...and they're all totally crap. HA! So the frustration thing, I get. Disappointment is my best friend. I pretty much fail at everything I do.

    But over time, as a million words went by, then the second million and third...I got to the point where people started enjoying things. I'm not a fast study, so I don't think that's typical. I think most people get better faster than I did.

    Anyways, so choose to save those ideas if you want to. There's no harm in stowing those worlds away for now and reopening them in a year. In the meantime, write short stories, or novellas, or anything you feel like. I encouraged a friend who is a brand new writer to just write about a particular series of events in his life. I suggested it as practice to hone in on his real voice and get used to writing before having to spend equal time thinking about HOW to write and inventing a world and characters. He sent me a few of the journal entries, and they were AMAZING!!! I told him how proud I'd be to have written them. They were so moving and funny, and just so fresh in voice. Because they were real. I told him that if he can get consistent with his voice and the technique of drawing from real life...and THEN insert that into fantasy stories, he'd fast track way quicker than I did, and be ahead of the curve.

    DO whatever works for you. Heck, we have a whole thread on this forum devoted to good ideas we've abandoned because we don't have time to write them all. Pick someone else's good idea and own it. I've found that my most successful short stories were ones I wrote for challenges when I was just messing around. A majority of them came from prompts--other people's ideas.

    I apologize if it sounds like I'm telling you what to do. Perhaps I've taken a personal interest in you because of your heartfelt posts and your dedication you've shown in your questions. Please don't take anything I say as "the right way" because I'm not about that. I can only share what I've seen in my friends' journeys and what I've learned in my own, and the advice I give is both sincere and meant as encouragement. I feel like it took me a long time to find my path, my voice, and my real goals. And it's okay if it takes you a while, too. I know you are going through some personal difficulties in real life right now, and please forgive me if I presume too much, but if you're inclined, consider writing about that. It's emotional, it's YOURS, and it might just be an opportunity to just use your skills and voice while you get more confidence built up to begin working on your golden ideas.

    :) Best wishes, Gribba. You have a strong spirit, and I hate to see people discouraged when they obviously have such a desire to hone their craft. Writing is a great way to use creative energy and grow as a person, but it gets stifling if you feel overwhelmed by the pressure of "getting it right" the first few novels you write. The first three novels I wrote should never see the light of day EVER, but by the fourth, at least I had some salvageable ideas. Now, I'm rewriting the 7th book I wrote, back in 2008, and even a dozen novels into this thing, I'm still overwhelmed and frustrated a lot of days. I am right now, in fact, because I got to a point in the story where my inspiration is lacking and my thoughts are confusing. If you want some ideas that you aren't emotionally attached to, I highly encourage participating in the challenges here or making some of your own "assignments" from prompts or the abandoned ideas thread. Just to give you a nudge to build up some momentum. I know I always feel reinvigorated to return to a novel after I get a short story out of my system and get some fresh breathing room and feel a sense of accomplishment.
    Gribba likes this.
  11. Gribba

    Gribba Troubadour

    This hit home:
    OMG!!! I have, so, been feeling, overwhelmed by the pressure of "getting it right" .

    This is SO true, absolutely something I need to work on, I believe I am putting a lot of pressure on myself, pressure that is not fair, to me nor my skill or the time I have to write, at the moment. I have, for 15 years, written down ideas, characters, worlds, concepts, plot and so on, as life had its hooks in me and I was not able to dedicate myself to writing any of these stories. For the last 2 years, life has slowly been loosening its grip on me and giving me my space, so I have been able to write again, find time for it, also go to writing courses, reading books about writing and just everything about writing that I have been wanting to do for so long and I have enjoyed it, loved being back at it, i have missed it for so long.
    So, I think I have been putting this unfair pressure on me because I have not been able to write for so long and now I feel, I just, have to write it all and “get it right”. And because of this pressure, it feels overwhelming and feels a little like the laundry that never ends, when you think you just got the last clothes out of the laundry basket, more shows up and you continue the mission ‘emptying the laundry basket’ once more.
    It is not healthy to put so much pressure on oneself and in the process forgetting to allow myself to just ease back into it and take my time to get there.

    Don't worry, I don't feel, that you are trying to tell me what to do but that you are giving advice and sharing experiences, that might help me and others, and I think it is so nice of you and I appreciate it. I can feel, that it rings true within me, when I read about some of the things you mention and realise that it is something I need to look at. Many of the post you have been so kind to share, have helped me realise some things about my own writing and where I am at. Also about the path I have already taken and not realised it, as I just tromped on and did not give it enough thought, at least I was on the right path even if I did not notice it and now I can appreciate it and give myself some credit where credit is due.

    And I think you are absolutely right, I need to build up some momentum.
    There is so much on the forum I have not discovered yet so I guess I need to explore the forum some more.

    I have often considered, writing about struggles I have gone through but I'm very private person, that I always end up dropping it but now I am thinking that it might be good, to push myself a little, out of my comfort zone and just see where it takes me.
  12. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    That's the great thing about writing, no one sees it if you don't want them to. I wrote on paper for ten years, only telling stories to amuse myself. I know a lot of people share similar experiences, having worked a long time before they ever considered actually sharing with their families or new writer friends. The thing is, you're in control of it.

    If you want to write in challenges, you put yourself out there for public scrutiny, and though we have a friendly forum, it can be hard to lose a challenge. I've lost plenty. If you write about deeply personal things, you need never show them to anyone, but it can help you learn your own voice, which is often hard for people who are beginning to write fiction. We don't know what's important in a scene and often get involved with "scene-setting" details that detract from a scene's overall impact. When we write from memory, though, the details are authentic in a way, because we NOTICED those things. We felt them. no one can say it isn't real, because it is, or was. Just exercising those writer muscles helps to develop a flow and personal narrative that's difficult to capture when you're making things up. I struggled with that for the last three years, because I thought i was including important things, but in reality, I was diluting my stories with things that didn't matter.

    I loved the journal entries my friend sent to me. I'd have been proud to have written them. He's a brand new writer and sort of didn't believe me that they were awesome, and it took some convincing on my part to show him WHY they were brilliant. Little things turn good stories great. Those little things are the hardest to invent.
    Gribba likes this.
  13. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Hi Gribba,

    I wanted to share something personal with you in the hopes it might give you some confidence :)

    So three years ago I had my little girl and she was born with a very rare genetic disorder. Eighth in the world actually. She has severe autism and epilepsy.

    For a long time, I really struggled with the guilt. I wondered what I did wrong and I questioned my faith. I found that I really identified with the changeling myth (of how fairies would swap human babies with fairy babies) because that was exactly what it felt like to me... like my baby had been switched with another baby.

    When I did my research I found out that that was exactly where the changeling myth came from. People believed that their perfectly healthy babies had been switched by fairies or trolls or demons when really the children just had autism or cerebral palsy or spina bifida.

    I decided to write a story about my feelings, being very honest with myself, and I submitted the story in one of our challenges here:


    It is one of the stories I am most proud, but it was very hard to write it and then submit it for everyone to see.

    However, at the end of the day, I'm glad I did because it has made all of my writing better. Being able, to be honest with myself and be brave enough to write down what I'm truly feeling about things has made a world of difference in all of my stories.

    Good luck to you!
  14. Gribba

    Gribba Troubadour

    Wow... I have no words... tears in my eyes as I read the story, amazing how you can bring those feelings into the story like that.

    My oldest son has a disability, the only one in the world at the moment with this genetic change. The feelings in your story are so easy for me to connect to.

    Heliotrope, thank you for writing this and thank you for sharing this story, thank you.
    Heliotrope likes this.
  15. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    It's an excellent story, isn't it? Moving and personal, and so beautifully written. To think...it came from a challenge. That's why I love this site so much. It gives us a place that's safe, to be ourselves and share this journey and our experiences. Some of the best short stories I've ever read were submitted for challenges, and some of the best I've written were, too.
    Gribba and Heliotrope like this.
  16. Xitra_Blud

    Xitra_Blud Sage

    I have this same problem. I have the biggest issue finishing anything because I get so many new ideas and I end up abandoning one for another. What I've taught myself to do is, when I get a new idea, don't cast it to the side entirely, but write down notes, draw pictures of the characters, write down lines I know I want to be in the story, basically, feed the other ideas while also writing the one I originally started. That way, I can still get my fix on the other stories while completing another, and also, once I'm done with the original story, I'll have my lines and everything ready for when I want to start one of the new ones.

    I haven't done your idea, but I don't see why it couldn't work. I say, give it a shot.
    Gribba likes this.
  17. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    Yes. It's a nightmare. My solution is to just finish one before starting another. Not always possible.
    Gribba likes this.

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