Starting a novel can be intimidating. Finishing even more so. It is my hope that this series will help other soon-to-be or wanna-be writers find a place to begin a novel and better yet, empower them to finish. Basically, this is all the advice I wish someone would have given me when I first started writing fiction.
Continuing on with our baby steps of writing, today I’m talking about solidifying your concept. (If you missed Step #1, go here to the previous post about creative banners.)
So we’ve made our creative banner (i.e. the essence of the joy we’ve found in the initial story idea, the thing(s) that we most love about it). Now we need to mold the idea further into a tangible concept.
What a concept is NOT:
- A theme, which gives mood and meaning to your story
- Your banner. It’s a refined version and presentable version of your banner.
- Your idea. I’s more expanded than that idea was initially.
- Your plot. The concept is only an ignition coil while your plot is going to be your V8 engine.
- The irony that makes your story different. (For example, in my book Courtesy and Patience, the main irony is a group of backwoods orphans, who never have anything unusual happen to them, have a never-seen before flying machine fall on their heads. What’s more, the balloon is full of sorcerer’s stones. Unusual and unexpected.)
- Your banner duded up then married off to an interesting main character, a conflict, and a setting all in one “I do”.
- Your hook. You have only two or three sentences to spew this information in a compelling way.
- Your expanded idea. It’s about (insert character here) in (insert setting here) who wants (insert motivation here) but (insert conflict and/or antagonist here) gets in his/her way. Not really that simple but kind of is.
What it is in a nutshell: (1 to 2 sentences)
It’s like __________, but different because it ___________.
The Irony: (The appealing dichotomy or dichotomies in the story)
Hook: (The irony and the conflict in as few words as possible)
Who would my PERFECT audience be? (Twelve year old boys into baseball or purple-haired elderly ladies at a tea party?)
ATMOSPHERE of the Book: (The tone or the mood of the book.)
Locations and Time Periods:
Notice a lot of the info in my list could potentially be redundant. (About like washing a car in the rain.) No sweat. Thinking about each element in different ways helps our brains catch the strengths and weaknesses of our concept.
Whatever exercise you do to find your concept, make sure you write down everything and keep it with the rest of your files for that specific story. I cut and tape them in a notebook specific to this shiny new idea. And I don’t throw away any drafts or ideas. Some little piece might later be the spark I need to fix a problem or change a concept all together.
Anyway, that’s concept. I would be happy to help anyone struggling with this, there's no sense in being discouraged on your own! Just email me @ jackee(dot)alston(at)gmail(dot)com.
Best of luck, my friends! Next post: Title Ideas.