Thursday, November 1, 2012

SCBWI-WI Conference Highlights, Part 2

The title of my breakout session was "Idea Explosion Workshop." I obviously can't share it all here, so I will choose a section that addresses a common problem in dealing with book ideas: "I have so many ideas I don't know what to do with them all! How do I choose?" Well, here's the method I recommend.

Look at your list, file, or box of ideas

Pick out the one(s) that most excite you.
Pick out the one(s) that have the most emotional resonance for you.
Pick out the one(s) that capitalize on your writing strengths.
Pick out the one(s) that make use of subjects you know well.

For some of these categories, you may be choosing more than one idea. That's fine. Throw them all into a literal or virtual pot. Now examine them further.

Which one(s) are overdone topics or genres in today's market? Strongly consider putting these back in the general idea file.

Which of the remaining ideas in the pot have the highest concepts? Take these out of the pot, and put everything else that's in the pot back into the general idea file. Lay these higher-concept ideas side by side on your desk, literally or figuratively, and shine a light on them.

Compare these ideas head to head, two at a time. Let's say you have four ideas on your desk: A, F, P, and Q.
  • Compare A and F. Which do you like better? Let's say it's F. Put A back in the general idea file.
  • F is now the standard. Compare F and P. Which do you like better? Let's say it's P. Put F back in the general idea file.
  • P is now the standard. Compare P and Q. Which do you like better? Let's say it's P. Put Q back in the general idea file.
  • P wins!!!!
  • NOW, WRITE P! :)
Alas, I wanted to upload a video clip, but I tried multiple times and it didn't work.

Do you have idea tips? Have you been to a conference lately?

23 comments:

Kelly Polark said...

Great tips, Marcia! I want to attend the WI SCBWI conference one day as I live in Illiniois near the WI border. I am looking forward to the IL SCBWI conference in a few weeks!

Vijaya said...

Hey, it's just like when you go to the optometrist! "1" or "2". I knew you'd be methodical.

I confess I have no tips to manage idea explosions. I work on multiple things and when the going gets tough, shiny new ideas are always there to tempt me. And if I don't work on them just a wee bit, they bug me ...

I hope you and I get invited to a conference together :) Why don't you submit a proposal to the Carolinas?

Mirka Breen said...

Thank you Marcia. You are a good coach!

Marcia said...

Kelly -- I hope you will come to the conference sometime! It would be fun to meet you.

Vijaya -- Y'know, I could take Idea Explosion on the road. Or something else, perhaps. But probably not till you-know-what happens.

Mirka -- Aw, thanks. :)

M.P. Dawson said...

Hi Marcia!
Cool advice on the idea explosion front. I truly wish I had that problem more often...
I tried to email you but it keeps bouncing back. Just wanted you to know that my book is OUT! I've included the link below in case you wanted to take a peep at a former student's handiwork!
Happy to be officially following you now that I started my own blog-writingbyhandya.blogspot.com
Cheers!

M.P. Dawson said...

So I should include the actual link...right....
http://www.amazon.com/The-Remnant-ebook/dp/B009SNSFSE/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1351823493&sr=1-3&keywords=the+remnant

Marcia said...

MP -- Congratulations on your release, and I'm so glad you stopped in! Thanks for the follow. :)Did you try emailing through my website? It should work...

Janet Smart said...

I started PoBoIdMo, I need an idea explosion! I came up with one idea yesterday and actually came up with 3 so far today. No suggestions, just always be aware of everything around you. You never know where an idea will come from.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

This sounds like a great method, Marcia. Alas, I don't have that many ideas. Maybe someday. . .

Marcia said...

Janet -- I also think one of the exciting things about ideas is that you never know when one will strike!

Ruth -- I don't, either. I've always been kind of amazed by those who say they have so many ideas they won't live long enough to use them all, and that's partly my attraction to this subject. I usually have my present WIP plus one more idea at any one time.

Emily R. King said...

I like this. I think it's a logical way of sorting through ideas. I'll keep it in mind. Thanks!

Bish Denham said...

This method just may help me because I am guilty of being swamped with ideas and not being able to decide which one to work on, and thus... not getting any writing done! GAK!

Nas said...

What a way to go through the idea list. I like it as it makes sure we come up with the best there is.

Thanks for sharing!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Sounds like it was a great workshop. I haven't created an idea box yet. The ideas come to me at the right time and I just expand on those. The ones that aren't too hot, come when they aren't needed and don't resonate with me when it comes time to work on a new project. :)

Marcia said...

Emily -- That's what I was hoping it would do. Bring some logic into a process that's otherwise pretty subjective.

Bish -- I hope it helps you!

Nas -- You're welcome, and thanks for visiting. :)

Stina -- I can identify with "The ideas come to me at the right time." That's pretty much how it works for me personally

cleemckenzie said...

I love the system for sorting through and editing! Thanks so much for sharing it here. I know you were a smash hit at the conference.

Marcia said...

Lee -- Thanks! I do think it went well. :)

Akoss said...

I really want to attend a conference but I have to be patient until we can afford it.
I'm very grateful for writers who go and come back with something to share with those who couldn't attend.
Thank you.

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Daisy Carter said...

What a great idea! I often do something similar, where I write all my ideas out and then see which interest me most. Then I try to narrow them down by "industry standards" or what's most high concept.

Sometimes, though, the one I really want to work on is something that's not particularly high concept. If that's the case, I try like the dickens to make it pop anyway.

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