I’ve got tips for stimulating creativity at my new blog home….
I’ve been reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and it is an excellent resource. Last week I was struck by all the different ways to generate plot ideas. So what do you do with all those ideas? You’ve got to narrow them down and the way to do it is with the Bell Pyramid.
There are three layers to the Bell Pyramid. We’ll start at the base and work to the top.
Passion: A novel takes a long time to write, so you must be passionate about the plot you choose to write about. Rejections abound in the publishing world and many times it is because the work presented is “cookie cutter” work. Writers will follow the crowd and write what is selling instead of writing the book in their heart. You must feel passion about your plot to sustain your writing through the lenth of time it takes to write it.
Potential: You have to consider the possible reach of your plot idea to an audience. The way to do that is to put yourself in the shoes of an invester. Would you want to invest thousands of dollars in a book about cleaning a fish? Hhhmmm. You don’t need to write to the largest possible audience, but you do need to focus on a specific audience and write a passionate story to that audience. You want to write romance? What kind? Historical, suspence, contemporary, etc… It is not a rule, but a guideline as you write what you are really passionate about.
Precision: You’ve found what your passionate about and think the potential is there for a readership following. Now you must trim away anything that is not in line with that potential. If you are writing for suspense, don’t get distracted from that focus. You don’t want anything to distract from the potential.
I thought these were very helpful as I am gathering up ideas and trying to figure out which one to write about.
How do you decide which idea is the one you run with?
- Flip a genre. An example of this would be The Wild Wild West. It is just James Bond set in the Old West.
- Obsessions. You know, money, looks, ego, etc. Ahab obsessed about a whale in Moby Dick. Create a character, given them an obsession and see where they run.
- Titles. Create a great title, then write a story to go with it.
- Steal from the best. Yep, you read right. Bell says even Shakespeare took other’s plots and weaved his own magic into them. We’ve all seen movies with similar plots. Take a plot and ramp it up, make it new, let it sing!
Bell had so many great ideas for generating great and interesting plots. Now I just need to sit my backside in the chair and let my mind go roam wild and free. I’ve definitely got to let some things go. Hhhmmm. TV and the new shows coming on are very tempting, and oh, the books in the pile of my bed are calling! I’ve got to learn to let things go.
So how do you writers brainstorm ideas? Do ideas come to you in your normal, everyday life? Or do you sit yourself down and get down to business?
What things to do let go in order to write? Is it painful?