Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Congealing The Concepts

Going against my established grain here, I’m going to describe a process that has helped me make some sense out of the jumble that is my ever-increasing volume of notebooks filled with ideas.

I periodically write out a list of every one of my story ideas and comics on a page, but have lately noticed that this page has grown to 2 and then to 3 pages long. This has had a dampening effect on my energy when I am faced with the prospect of diminishing time and increasing workload. I find I simply do not have enough time (or energy) to handle the work.

This has had a sobering effect on me.

Then I began to notice little things. Some of these stories were stand-alone ideas, or One-Shots, but others were threads in a bigger idea. As soon as I noticed this patterns began to take shape. The Bigger picture emerged. This one particular story might appear to be a Stand Alone, but I used a character and a setting that appeared in another, and this ties it in. Soon, I had winnowed an enormous 67-story backlog into 4 easily workable piles.

This is the Congealing The Concepts part. I know a lot of writers fall into this trap. They turn the idea spigot on and record the flow. Soon, they become inundated with concepts and ideas and eventually they drown in them. The trick here is to look for the patterns. As soon as you spot them, merge them. This does not mean alter them, Lord no. It means that 16 page short is no longer it’s own entity, rather it has become Chapter 12 in your larger narrative.

When you see this patternization emerge, it actually refocuses your writing energy where it is needed. On the story itself. You may notice a slight alteration of the initial story, but this is an editing process rather than a surrender.

The point is this. Overwhelming yourself with ideas is a bad thing. But only as long as you allow it to remain chaotic. You are writing what you know, be it Steampunk, Romance or Super Heroes. That is what you know best, and as a result, you will find yourself walking down similar paths with your story telling. This repetition is what binds your stories together. This is the written reflection of you. You must be aware of it, or at the very least open to its existence enough to recognize it. When you do see this pattern emerge, then you can begin the real task of taking jumbled pieces of work into the Great Narrative that you and I know you have in you.

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