Finding ideas, be open to them

I have worked with many authors, screenwriters and as an engineer with technical professionals in trying to find ideas.

The biggest problem I found working with these people was that they would reject out of hand idea after idea. Ideas that I took and later wrote stories using them. (Never let a good idea get away. They may be free but they can be the most valuable thing in existence.)

Why did the author blow off, what were to me, good ideas (and they often were generated by other people)? Did the author have a hidden or subconscious list or set of requirements of what the idea must be. Did the author expect that the right idea to come fully formed, ready to write a whole book about, with the muse tagging along to urge the writer along.

It ain’t going to happen. It takes more than one idea to make a book, many more. You may write a book without the muse ever showing up.

  1. Remember it’s your book, not the muse’s.

2. Remember, no fantastic idea ever survives the first draft. Ideas mutate. Good ideas mutate like the Hulk. They also turn green and go bad. Think Swamp thing.

If you’re looking for an idea get your preconceptions on the table. Make a list of them. If you’re writing a book about X then make a list about X, what it should be, its size, shape, weight, personality, attitude. If you’re looking for an idea, know what your looking for. “I need an idea for a character” is too broad. “I need an idea for an adventurous, female, addicted to chocolate, with relationship issues” is headed in the right direction.

I’ve been in meeting with people that had an agenda they were pushing and kept pushing ideas that seemingly had nothing to do with the problem we were brainstorming. He wanted to redesign the power supply but the meeting was about poor radar range. Never did figure out if there was a part that he couldn’t get for the power supply and there was a production problem or did he just want to hire another engineer so he could get a pay raise and a better parking spot. He couldn’t convince us that a better power supply would give us more radar range.

If your after ideas collect them. The ideas may not seem to be good at the time but later they may click together and be the answer. If you collect ideas go back over the collection later. Ideas on a list don’t do you any good if you never look at the list.

Open up. A closed mind or a mind with too many restrictions will never find new ideas.

Lay your requirement (cards) on the table. Don’t keep hidden agendas.

Listen to everyone. Take notes and go over the notes later. Mash things up.

3. Remember, out of the mouths of babes and engineers comes the wisdom of the ages.

Stay strong, write on.            Professor Hyram Voltage

2000 words an hour, is it possible?

I’ve read a book called 2,000 to 10,000 How to write fast, … . The title of the book refers to the number of words an author can write in an hour. I’m having trouble making 1,000 words an hour.

Now 1,000 words an hour is 17 words a minute. Many typists can type 100 (200 or more) words a minute so it’s not a lot of words. The book makes a point that to get to 10,000 words a hour you need an outline. I have an outline. The outline gets updated often. The outline helps, but I don’t follow the outline like a railroad track, which causes the outline rewrites.

One thing that will slow you down is research. I was writing a scene today where the army was about to break in and the spies did not have the tools to break into a safe to get to the secret plan for concurring the world. So the spies have to steal the safe and run from the army. The safe plays a minor part in the story and gets mentioned many times. Calling the McGuffin a safe, a generic name, is boring. Boring the reader is bad, boring is the death of your book. So it’s time for research. How much does a safe weight (a lot), what type of safes were made in that time period (not a lot). Wiki to the rescue. Hey there’s a company that pioneered the development of safes in England. That’s where my villains happen to be. In the time period of the story. Click on a couple of pictures of old safes and I got some details (color) to add to the book.

Warning there are people out there that will jump all over your case if you mention that the safe was a Diebold. Why because Diebold did not export things until 1887 and those things were mostly bank vault doors and fixtures. Safes are too heavy to transport over seas and the British government would have purchased a safe made by a British manufacturer. No one will ever give me credit for getting it right, but lord will they jump on me if I get it wrong.

I’m getting 3,000 words out a day on a good day (those days are few and far apart). That 3,000 words includes research, spell check (which can take an hour a page, not so much the spelling but ensuring that the word I used is the right word, looking up the definition), a possible rewrite, and going back and checking that what I wrote matches to the part that came before it.

A novel is about 80,000 words. Make that 100,000 for a fantasy/science fiction novel. At 80,000 words, and averaging 2,000 words a day, that’s 40 days. Add a few days for weekends, to go watch a movie, visit friends. Not an impossible goal. Now to keep the extraneous things from interrupting the writing, and if El Nino doesn’t flood the place I may have the book done by years end.

Stay strong, write on.    Professor Hyram Voltage

From frenzy to gloom

As a writer I am an emotional being. Microsoft and its product Windows drives me from Frenzy to Gloom, from uncommunicative to hysteric. Forgive me, but to paraphrase Shakespeare, the first thing we do is hang all the programmers, after we classify the lawyers as programmers.

August was not a waste, 11 states and over 5000 miles driven in 16 days. The great salt lake, Yellowstone park and Old Faithful, Cody Wyoming, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument, Devil’s tower, Minneapolis, Nebraska arch, and lots of points in-between.

I drove most of it. No time to write.

I’m back let’s write. I got four chapters to go in the second novel. Rewriting the end of the outline. Blasted characters keep doing thing I hadn’t planned on.

Stay strong, write on.   Professor Hyram Voltage