Thursday, 2 August 2012

So What's the Big Idea?

Tonight I received an email from my Dad telling me about a novel idea he had. He can be a bit of a joker, my father, so I began reading with a grain of salt. As I progressed through his email and thoughts, I found the idea was actually quite good, so formed a serious reply with advice I'd like to share for any authors who're having an idea form in their head that they don't know what to do with (but need to do something so they can hit the hay in peace).

Basically, I gave him a starting point... I think the last actual story he wrote was one he told me before bed when I was six. Fresh ideas are so cool and should be encouraged, so here is the reply worth reading if you're having an idea and want to know what to do about it...

Without spilling the beans on his concept, you'll get the gist of what he said by my reply. The references to sleep are because the idea keeps him awake ;)

I like it, it's good! - and very you :)

I like the code name you chose for the character... as for his real name, you might want to consider the Bourne movies - he also has a real name (Jason Bourne is his file name) as 'real' names can affect the way the audience views the character, too. That he has no super powers gives him "street cred" or believability. Your character must have a weakness, and presumably the love interest becomes it (however a second weakness is also good because then the girl can become leverage)...

Books are way more detailed than movies, as every page of a screenplay equates to one minute of screen time, believe it or not. For this reason I would suggest to go with a book first, and the cinematic creative license can come later (make sense?).

I hope you sleep tonight, too :)

May I advise or suggest you buy a 96 page exercise book solely for the use of penning down your ideas in detail (inluding what your mind's eye sees in the background if you find it relevant because it can help set the scene for when you need to revisit the scenes you originally envisioned). Don't get bogged down in the details unless they are important, but write down as best and quickly as you can the important parts. My exercise books usually involve conversations and/or emotions the character(s) is feeling. The purpose of jotting stuff down is to clear your mind so the fresh ideas can flow in and the ideas that got you started are out of the way.

Another benefit is that you also get to sleep some :)

Also, I find actual writing with an actual pen quite cathartic, and also you can pick the book up at ANY time (beside the bed in the wee small hours, for instance) instead of having to turn on a computer or waiting for a program to load...

Go with it, Dad. You could be onto something. I'd buy it. And thanks for telling me your idea. It takes a lot of trust ;)


Q: Have you been struggling with an idea you didn't know how to escape? How did you get it out? Are you still stuck? Do you know how to find help? A great place to start may be with one of the books mentioned at the foot of this page...

In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 127v2

C’est inutilement que vous vous levez tôt, que vous vous couchez tard
et que vous mangez un pain gagné avec peine:
il en donne autant à ses bien-aimés pendant leur sommeil.

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