Sunday, October 21, 2007

Telling Right From Wrong (Part 16)

Let Your Imagination Soar

Photograph copyright: MATTHEW McMAHON


I've had some interesting feedback on the subject of how best to harness ideas, especially when inspiration strikes at unexpected times. Misty Dawn asked about idea-retention techniques:

My problem is that I have many stories, both short and long, running through my head. I have a great thought or a great "scene" go through my head while I am out shooting photos, in the shower, or lying down to go to sleep. By the time I get in front of the computer, I have either lost most of the idea, or everything is playing out so fast in my head that I can't get it all down fast enough, it all gets mixed up then, and I get frustrated and give up.

Relax, Misty Dawn. Here's a choice. Would you rather have no inspiration at all, or too much inspiration? Sounds like you've definitely got the latter happening. That's a wonderful thing for any writer, but in your case the challenge is the task of stringing them together. Trust me, that's a whole lot better than not having any ideas at all, so you're a couple of steps ahead of us all.

My fellow Aussie, the Bendigo-based blogger Pope Terry said:

I come up with a lot of ideas on my walks, when I don't have a pen and pad handy. It's a little annoying, trying to remember everything until you get home.

Been there, done that, Your Eminence. I had this great idea a couple of months ago, about a twist to the novel I'm writing. I should have written it down, but I didn't. The next time I sat down at the computer, I could not for the life of me recall what it was. It took a few minutes, and I was sweating bullets! If you get a great idea and you can't write it down, try and fix it in your consciousness with a memory aid.

Then I had to chuckle at the pithy comment made by I Am Not, who said:

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are," - W. Somerset Maugham.

I've also got three rules - never give up on a good idea, never give in to writer's block, and always follow up on a good idea.

It's The Little Things asked about when and how to locate an agent:

Say we've "mostly finished" our work, but know there will changes and edits suggested by the agent/publisher. Should we start sending out as is? Secondly, where do we find an agent?

I hadn't finished my first novel, Vegemite Vindaloo, when Penguin indicated interest in the synopsis and early chapters. On that basis, I'd say give your work the once-over for typos, factual references and self-editing and then go through the process I described in an early post in this series about finding an agent. To recap, a lot of big publishers won't look at work unless it comes recommended by an agent. You might also find some useful information in my post Make Sure You Find The Right Agent. If you have any specific queries, just let me know. I'm always happy to help.

And this interesting suggestion came from Kimberly:

Another question for you - have you considered compiling your Telling Write From Wrong posts into a book?

In all honesty, Kimberly, that was not my intention when I began this series. But after I'd written about ten posts in this series, a little light started to flicker in the recesses of my brain. At this stage I am totally committed to writing novels, but this is something I'll definitely think about. Stay tuned ....

18 comments:

Oswegan said...
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Nessa said...

I think we all have some of these problems. I have great ideas while I'm walking or driving to work and then they usually get lost in my to do lists in my head. I have a mini tape recorder that I talk into. Sometimes that alone helps me remember and I don't even need to play it back. I have a small notebook I carry every where too.

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

I love the thought you may make these posts into a future book, I'm sure lots of folk would benefit from it. Hope all's well with the novel, I feel like a sloth next to you!

Les Becker said...

I agree with Carol. It wouldn't take much really, considering that by the time you're ready, it will all be written. Please add me to your list of customers!

I also carry a recorder, but I find I prefer to jot down ideas on paper. I end up with bits and pieces all over the place, mind you, as they never seem to stay in one notebook, but spill out all over envelopes and match book covers. Even though I go I periodically gather them all up and type them into Word, I can't bear to toss the bits of paper.

imac said...

If not a recorder, why not a pocket computer?.Good luck with your book.

CG said...

A very interesting post as usual david!

KMF said...

very nice post

NorthBayPhoto said...

The photo goes great with your articles theme.

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Anonymous said...

David,

Just thought I'd let you know that I've forwarded my sister, Chumkie's feedback on "VV" to your email address. She left Darjeeling in 1970, so didn't get to see you in "Anne Frank", but is extremely grateful to me for introducing you to her through "VV"

Rene.

indicaspecies said...

Back again to the topic of harnessing ideas, there have been times when I have been driving on the road and a whole poem has run around in my head in those moments. I have pulled out my mobile phone such times, punched in some key phrases into it to help me expand on later at the keyboard. That method has been of some help to me.

David, your posts on Telling Right (Write) From Wrong have been useful to me. Thank you for sharing your valuable thoughts. :)

Merisi said...

I think what I call "my little black book", better known nowadays as Moleskine, has not for nothing been carried around by now famous writers, thinkers and even painters: it helps to jot down a few key words, phrases, to hold on to some of what goe through one's mind in unexpected moments or places. They are small and tough enough to be carried almsot anywhere (dreadful, if inspiration hits you while swimming, but, alas, a few thoughts need to be able to evaporate into the commong thought pool, don't they? *g*).

Merisi said...

I think what I call "my little black book", better known nowadays as Moleskine, has not for nothing been carried around by now famous writers, thinkers and even painters: it helps to jot down a few key words, phrases, to hold on to some of what goes through one's mind in unexpected moments or places. They are small and tough enough to be carried almost anywhere (dreadful, if inspiration hits while swimming, but, alas, a few thoughts need to be able to evaporate into the common thought pool, don't they? *g*).

(Deleted my my previous comment, had hit the publish button too fast.)

Neva said...

And this is why we can call you a professional!! Details and know how go a long way but you have quite the eye...nice shot!!

Cuckoo said...

Well, I use paper & pen for jotting down things. But most of the time I am in such a place that I cant write the words immediately and later those valuable inputs are gone.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

I've come up with a few ideas from time to time. Actualkly started one once, back in grad school. The problem is, the immages in my head are always cooler than my words. I just don't have the guift that you guys have to put it down on paper. Ok, every once and a while I come up with something that shines a bit, but in a book you have to sustain it. Anyway, who the hell has the time. I barely have the time to read this and comment, and come up with three things a week on the blog. The grind is killin' me. So, I live vicariously through you and Shrinkie and Mushy and Les. I hope all of you blow up like movie stars. I'll say I knew you when.

sex said...
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sex said...
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Kirti said...

David you should definitely write a book about how to write a book. Also how to blog. You are a wealth of information and a great, supportive mentor. Kind of like a male Oprah!