I don’t know about you guys, but I have a lot of trouble sticking with a story idea. Sometimes I’ll see something bizarre that prompts a question in my brain, a “What would happen if…?” And then my mind is reeling with new characters and exciting plot twists and it’s all I can do to stop scribbling down ideas and get myself back in front of that .scriv file that I’ve been neglecting.
Other times I write myself into this terrible swamp of bad ideas, poor dialogue and total writer’s block, and I just want to abandon the whole project, pull myself out of that nastiness and leave it behind as I set out on a new writing adventure.
For example, while researching a story for work, I came across that gorgeous rendering of architect Vincent Callebaut’s “Lilypad,” and instantly this wonderful idea came to me. The plot unraveled before my eyes, the characters revealed themselves and nestled perfectly into their respective places in the story, the ending neatly tied itself up — except for a few taunting loose strings that would lend themselves perfectly to a sequel. (Don’t worry — this idea is most certainly not a remake of a notoriously bad Kevin Costner film.)
So, do I stick with my current WIP? Do I move on? If I do, am I simply setting myself up to abandon yet another project in the future?
Because I do have a tiny problem with distraction. There are times I pick up a new book, devour it in a matter of hours and then start thinking along these lines:
You know what? I should write a novel about a dystopian society where they’ve discovered a way to ‘cure’ everyone of love. Oh, wait…that’s been done.
But what if the protagonist had to fight to the death in an arena of sorts in order to save herself from undergoing the love-curing operation? It could be a sort of brutally violent reality TV show, and while she’s in this arena she’ll spark a revolution among the nation’s viewers. Oh, and she’ll fall in love with a baker’s son whose sexuality readers can’t help but question because of his affinity for cake decoration.
Hmm…that sounds familiar.
But what if she were victorious in this deadly contest and as a reward she not only gets to keep her ability to love, but she also gets to undergo a surgical operation to make her prettier. But then she has the operation and realizes that something is wrong with her brain. That’s it!
That also sounds a little bit like something I just read, though.
But what if she reverses the operation through her own sheer will and then is cryogenically frozen and shipped off in a space ship across the universe to colonize a newly discovered Earth-like planet!
Of course then I pick up a Carrie Ryan book and decide that this new planet is obviously infested with zombies. And at that point I realize that I’ve written not only a plagiarized, convoluted story, but also a complete monstrosity of a novel. Throw in a few sparkling vampires and I’ve got Breaking Dawn. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m totally going to see that movie. I can’t wait to see Kristen Stewart drink from the jugular of a mountain lion.)
So, in short, does abandoning the old WIP and embarking on a new writing journey mean I’m just WIP commitment-phobic? Because clearly I’m already prone to literary distractions … of the best-selling YA type. Or could this idea be *The One? Perhaps this is the plot and characters I can commit myself to. Perhaps I can stop all this cheating…um, flirtation with copyright infringement.
Let me know what you think. For now, I’m going to contemplate the repercussions of plagiarizing J.K. Rowling.
*Don’t worry — this new idea is 100 percent my own, and I swear I’ve never actually plagiarized a thing. Rowling totally stole my boy wizard plot idea. The ‘Sorcerer Stone’s’ actually came to me in a dream when I was 15.