Most authors have the core, the kernel of their idea. It may be the climax of the trilogy – The Federation regains control of the shipping lanes and can continue trading – or it may be the central theme – Redhead women in New York are being attacked, and the assailant keeps their left sock – but whatever the premise of the story, the writer has a starting point. I doubt if any successful first novel came from someone thinking ‘I’m gonna write a financial crime thriller’. You need an idea, at least.
J.K. Rowling knew how her seven book series would end and, with a few minor adjustments, it remained that way. In 1874, Lewis Carroll’s ‘starting point’ was in fact, the ending of a nonsense poem “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see” and he spent the next two years writing the world’s longest nonsense poem to ‘explain’ this single sentence.
I find that it’s often a good idea to jot down some basic concepts before I start. However, I also find that I can get bogged down in the minutiae of it all, focusing on so trivial things, that I cannot see the woods for the trees. It’s a bad habit, one that I have repeatedly pledged to discard… right before I spend three hours on my blog site, changing and amending the theme, or get sidetracked into creating an excel that will calculate tax on your salary in five different jurisdictions. I guess I will never learn!
That said, I have a multitude of ‘fantastic’ ideas, but the vast majority of them are discarded. Some, because they are close to existing books, others because they don’t have the mileage and even a few that, whilst I believe in the plot, I know my own abilities – know that I cannot write it in a way that would give it justice.
Attachments is such a plot. It’s a near future crime thriller in which the bad guys are defrauding people by… Ah! Now that’s the problem isn’t it? I know I cannot write it. I don’t have the ability, but I’m hardly going to give it away. You’re going to have to find your own Boojum.