Monday, June 25, 2018

So Many Plots

Q: What do you do with those extraneous plot ideas that are too good to throw away but don't fit into your work(s) in progress? 

- from Susan

Good question and I really want to hear what the rest of the Minds answer.  I keep little files with titles that grow increasingly difficult to interpret over time:

Dani in LA – defaced murals?
Peter / Indian art, SF?
Teeni’s new job goes crazy
David – music teacher, obsessed girl
Who killed the dealer? Not a stranger
Dickie Swiss Alps ski mystery?
K&M on tour – bassist killed – does P show up w P?
P opens agency, client is killer
K in Provence w kids – cave death

It’s difficult to decipher what I meant at the time, but, truthfully, coming up with a plot based on any one of these nebulous ideas is easy enough, even if the plot idea doesn’t work any better the second time I try to wedge it into a larger novel than it did the first time.  But what usually happens is that the idea gets cobwebby in my mind, feels tired because I rejected it once. I realize I’ve never gone back to any of these snippet files for inspiration, so perhaps I should select and delete them. Maybe. But you never know, Katherine might get wildly ambitious and unrealistic and take Jeannette and her two un-socialized brothers on an art education trip to St. Remy. But then, Katherine would have to be crazy and rich to do that, and I’m not ready to let her descend into mental chaos even though I’d love it if Michael’s music comeback goes well. (Oh, that’s right. I invented these people. I can make his comeback a roaring success, can’t I?)

BSP: Speaking of successes, even if they’re not roaring, I’d love to see the new book hit some success markers, so if you’re looking for summer reads or birthday presents and want a traditional mystery with some heart, two options:

The book

The audiobook

 "Not since my first visit to Louise Penny's Three Pines, have I encountered a more beguiling fictional world than Susan Shea's Reigny-Sur-Canne." - Catriona McPherson


Paul D. Marks said...

Susan, I love your shorthand ideas. I also love the fact that you can't remember what they were when you look back on them. I sometimes have the same issue. Something sounded so good in the moment and then later when you look at it it either doesn't sound nearly as good or you just can't figure out what you were thinking in the first place.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

I keep and idea file too, Susan, and I sometimes find it difficult to decipher what I meant later on. And I rarely use an idea that I've been saving.

RJ Harlick said...

I'm like all of you. I too have this growing file of ideas and texts tossed out of a work in progress, that I am convinced can be used in a later book. But it never happens. No, not quite correct. Once, I removed a few chapters that were later used, though not the exact words. At the time I felt this sub plot could become a major plotline on its own and so it happened. But the rest lie forgotten in my file never to see daylight again.

Unknown said...

Often they're like dreams - amazing at the time but when you try to retell them they just sound dumb.

Susan C Shea said...

Paul, and these aren't even the 3 a.m. versions! Like RM says, the next day, it's "Whaaaat?"

It cheers me to realize 1. I'm not the only one and 2. other people keep these little bits of writerly detritus!

Idea: Maybe we should trade our files with each other like baseball cards. Who knows, one might turn out to be the brilliant idea that brings another's story to life.

Cathy Ace said...

I hate to admit it, but I have some super ideas when I'm driving - so I phone myself (hands free, of course) and leave a message. I do my best to not be too cryptic!

Unknown said...

Driving is a really good time for brilliant ideas. I'll have to remember Cathy's trick and tell my phone: "Hey Siri, call me" :)