Sunday, March 04, 2007

To Write or Not to Write

I like writing up lists. Not just things like the Monday Ten here, but every other thing I need to do, like organizing my housework, appointments for the upcoming month, stuff I need to buy, errands waiting to be ran and so forth. To accomodate my fetish, I have shopping and to-do pads all over the house, next to the phones, in my purse, tacked to the bulletin board, hanging from a magnet on the refrigerator, in the bathroom closets and in the glovebox of every vehicle we own.

When I first play with a story idea, I start by writing a list of keywords relating to the plot and characters. I have literally thousands of story lists that never made it past the list stage. They're filed in the story list file. I also have a list of file names and descriptions. And a list of file lists, because I have more than one filing cabinet.

I thought about making a list of all the lists I have, but there could be disastrous gravitational consequences.

My one, never-ending list is The Novels I'd Like to Write. I'm always adding and subtracting ideas from this one, mostly adding. Obviously writing that book about a secret code hidden in famous artwork that leads to a revelation that rocks the religious world is a cross-off now. Ditto revising my 4,000 line epic poem into novel form -- there is just so much of my artistic soul that I'm going to inflict on you unsuspecting people.

Still, it's an active list, and one I enjoy reading over. I know I'll never live long enough to cross off every item on this list, but it's fun to plan what I could do if I don't get hit by a truck anytime soon. I'm tempted to jot down notes and rough them out a bit more, but that would make it harder to keep them on the list level.

Some items from the list in its present incarnation:

Anthrax vaccine puts humans back on all fours

Bama Zombie Farm Boy Rescues Prom Queen

Bast (Cat God, egyptian) caught and dumped in pound

Spelunkers (sp?) find way ancient paintings that Explain It All

Chicklit version of Oliver Twist (more Prada, sir?)

Chubby Death goes Club Med

Nyad hatched by benevolent brute miner saves him & planet

Old quilt with love poems as block foundations

Sniper witnesses assassination through scope

Squilyp's own novel, set on Omorr + his twins

I know, my shorthand is a little strange; matches my brain patterns. What would be something you'd put on your To Write list right now?


  1. Anonymous2:14 AM

    This sounds cliche but I'd really like to write a zombie novel, told in first person by a strong female lead. I wrote a short story in this vein and I'd like to write the back story. My creative writing teacher liked the short story, but I can never decide whether it's because I'm skilled or because he tended to come to class drunk. I choose to believe the latter.


  2. Anonymous2:15 AM

    Oops I mean the former.

  3. Anonymous3:24 AM

    I'd like to write an entire novel in the point of view of the villain. Not just a chapter here, and a chapter there, but the whole dang novel.

    Also, I had plans to write this novel about these little people that live in a little village. One finds a ring of power, and then gets sent on a three-book-long quest to destroy the ring in an active volcano in the middle of the wasteland. Imagine my surprise when I found out about that Tolkien guy.

  4. I had this idea for a story about a young farmer on a distant, desolate planet joining a small rebel force to defeat an evil empire, all the while growing in his ability to command a "life-force" of sorts. I was totally bummed when I heard about this "Star Wars" series...

    Seriously though, I have always wanted to write something along the lines of Indiana Jones, sort of an adventure/action (adventure placed first on purpose) with a little mystery and puzzle solving thrown in for good measure.

  5. Anonymous6:33 AM

    "Chicklit version of Oliver Twist (more Prada, sir?)"

    You know, you could make this into a hit.

    I don't have a list like this, but it's not a bad idea. Every time I'm at the end of a book, I wonder what the heck I'm going to write next.

    A little bit of list-making might be smart -- so thanks for the tip.

  6. When I worked in local government, I always had my "toady" list so nothing got overlooked. Now I'm a kept woman, not so much. I do have a list of every Philip K. Dick novel I own, so I won't buy the same one again any more. This will probably annoy those friends of mine who've benefited from past mistakes :D.

    Some years ago, I wrote a short story called Afterlife that was published on the Dark Krypt. I've often thought about developing its central idea (bringing ghosts back to "life") into a novel. Just need a plot. I find getting from idea to plot almost impossible. Sigh.

  7. Like your ideas. I have one of those lists myself. Once in a while I do manage to pick up one of those old ideas and use it as a subplot or something for a new one.

    I especially like the one about Bast, though Bast is a Goddess not a God. You know she's going to put you under the curse of the furballs now - or did you really think those were just ordinary dust bunnies?

  8. Anonymous8:29 AM

    Dog is awarded Nobel Peace Prize, and Pulitzer for essay. Hey it could happen, right? :P

  9. Okay. I sooooo want to read that book about Squid Lips!

  10. Anonymous9:40 AM

    I thought about making a list of all the lists I have, but there could be disastrous gravitational consequences.

    You know... you can be TOO organized. ;p

    I suffer from terminal paranoia and I rarely talk about anything that isn't already done and contracted, but there are a couple...

    Hawk/Swordslady fantasy series
    Psychic/Kidnapped trilogy
    Alien pseudo vamp series

    Then there's the fifteen, twenty or more files saved on my lap top taht are just the first one or two pages that are just waiting for me to notice them again...

  11. I'm with Doug. I can see a chick lit version of Oliver Twist making the best-seller lists. Write it and I promise to buy a copy.

  12. Anonymous11:17 AM

    "I thought about making a list of all the lists I have, but there could be disastrous gravitational consequences."


    Mine would be an inner-city runaway girl version of The Wizard of Oz (complete with special red sneakers she finds in a thrift shop)

    I have a whole list of "first chapters" (aka what I thought were short stories but no one else does)

  13. Besides the six novels on which I'm actually working? ;)

    Right now it's Never to Return the story about Ricmar, the Saxon outlaw in the times of Charlemagne. That one will be written one day, and I've already sort of a basic outline. Plus the research about Charlemagne I did for my PhD.

    Then the idea I mentioned recently, about the conquest of the Visigoth Kingdom by the Moors, with the MC who converts to Islam.

    Pirates on the Baltic Sea in the late 14th century. They started out as privateers in the Danish succession war and when they were no longer needed, took to piracy, lead the Hansa League a merry dance and could only be brought down by the Teutonic Knights. Some vague ideas about a MC who accepts a letter of marque, later realises what he's got into, but you can't just leave the pirates. And his best friend is a Teutonic Knight. :)

    Alternate Roman Empire Steampunk. A very vague one, but I want to use rifles for a change. *grin*

  14. I have a novel ideas file that has a ton of novel ideas that I'd love to write.

    Here's a few:

    Ghost/paranormal story involving a series of fires and an ancient evil
    Fae Goddess/war story
    A murder mystery/pyschological thriller

    I really wish I had more time...

    Erin K.

  15. I always thought I'd like to write a historical mystery, set in the Gilded age, with the main character someone who is not a member of the upper class but who interacts with them on a regular basis. Perhaps a librarian who visits the stately homes and organizes their libraries and their collections (paintings, statues, and other valuables). I fell in love with the library at the Biltmore Estate at an early age.

  16. Anonymous8:43 PM

    I want to write an epic series a la Robert Jordan, but without the saggy, non-moving middle set of books.

    *gets lots of sticky notes*

  17. Anonymous11:39 PM

    I've got a whole backlog; I've been keeping notebooks since I was in high school. The current ones, though, would be:

    Vamped at age 12, and now she's stuck at that age forever.

    Finishing my NaNoWriMo from '04; it's a space opera about humanity fighting against telepathic aliens.

    A rewrite of Hostile Takeover, which is the story of an attempt to destroy an interstellar shipping company.

    (Of course, first I actually have to work on my current WIPs.)

  18. Anonymous8:15 AM

    I don't know how people can survive without lists and organization. I mean, that's right behind breathing on necessities! *-*

    I have a notebook set up for writing ideas. It's divided between potential series ideas, story ideas based on something (primarily, myths or fairy tales), and standalones that come out of the blue. I write out my vague plot concepts, jot down any character names I know I want to use, and categorize the genre. Some entries make more sense than others (I'm not so coherent in the middle of the night), and some will probably be dropped, but I at least have a record of them.

    I've primarily been focused on my MindWalker books, but one of the ideas in that notebook has been clamoring for attention lately: what if Cassandra/Alexandra's powers wee divided between identical twins, and what if Apollo wasn't such a nice god? (Hey, all that research I put into deciding my Latin name for class had to be worth something!)

  19. Anonymous11:58 AM

    oh dear. the to-be-written list... it never gets shorter, does it? Off the top of my head:

    - Romulus/Remus as a gay couple
    - What if humanity DID interbreed with an alien race - some 20k years ago... and geneticists today find a way to re-trigger those dormant genes in their human descendents.
    - Love story involving ponies, a teenager w/ a drinking problem, coming out, and more ponies.
    - Love story involving the "Irish Troubles", set in the 70's.
    - 4 partially plotted sequels to "Face of the Enemy"
    - bitter vamp making a living as a night security guard in Boston.
    - What happens when humans DO see their first sign of a slowly approaching spaceship...months...and months...of preparation and panic...
    - That space pirate w/ the empathic parrot ;-)

  20. The biggest idea on top of my "to write... later" list stems from a very vivid dream I had where a human-piloted spaceship crashed onto a planet inhabited by shape-shifters.

    That story, unfortunately, is further down the ACTUAL "to write" list, since I also want to write the sequels to my NaNo 2005 novel.

  21. Oh! I really like the Goddess Bast idea. Sounds like fun - but then cats are always fun to write.

    - young girl selkie accidentally puts glamour on pirate lad who should Know Better

    - convention goers startled when brand new Goddess or God of Giant Robots appears among them

    - re-telling of cinderella...sleeping beauty...etc

    - retired (and bored) vampire hunter agrees to go on one last mission - to help an old "friend" regain his soul

    More often, my stories come in "images" rather than plot ideas.

    - "Young Lady" trying on a large black hat...

    - Two boys playing poker in a looks on...(is dog cheating?)

    - Girl gazes into stars while escaping luscious ball given in her honor


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