At Least Know Your Environment

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.

Throes of Creation by Leonid Pasternak
Throes of Creation by Leonid Pasternak

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.grumpy-writer-sig

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