Wild Ideas

“The only safe thing is to take a chance.”
Mike Nichols

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”
T.S. Eliot

Lighting a fire here! Things are heating up on the revision front. I’m moving into the home stretch. My little heroine will soon enter a forbidding forest where all sorts of dastardly things are going to happen. Some time ago, while I was out walking, a really wild idea came to me about this section of my book. A phrase popped into my head and I started playing with it. Luckily, I didn’t forget it before I got home because I had nothing to write with (reminder: bring paper and pen on walks!).

Somehow, this single phrase mushroomed into a whole scene, a chant, and bigger still, a possible major new plot thread. I scrawled all these elements down whenever they came to me and filed them away. That sounds too neat for me: Actually, I put them in a pile, no two piles. Anyway, I set all this aside and returned to my story. Now I’m at a point where I have to fish or cut bait: I have to make a decision about whether to integrate my wild idea into my novel or not.

On the plus side, if I can put it across, the idea will give my story more weight and a link to contemporary issues, even though it’s a historical fantasy. On the down side, it’s moving my tale more heavily into magic realism, which might turn off some readers, young though they are. And it could also fall into a “message” mode — a deadly sin.

Here’s the rub: If I play it safe, I could be robbing my story of a layer of complexity and meaning that matter to me. If I risk going too far, my story might sink under the weight of an ungainly addition. What to do, what to do?

Writing all this down just helped me decide: I’m going to risk it! I’ve loved this idea ever since it popped into my head — and there must be a reason it did. I feel sure I can make it work with some work. If it doesn’t, I’ll take a flyer. If it does, well, that’s writing dangerously! So wish me luck and I’ll keep you posted.

What’s your wild idea? Is there something you’ve dreamed up but hesitate to go all out with? Why not start playing with it on paper and see where it takes you? Then set it aside, let it percolate, and revisit it. Give it wings and it make take you and your readers some place wonderful. Write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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4 Responses to Wild Ideas

  1. Toby Stein says:

    Frankly, I am surprised by any hesitation to work out the idea and see what happens. All we as writers have in our armamentarium is this troika: talent, hard work, and courage. To set aside an idea that excites us because it contains risks–or, after we’ve worked it through, its excitement flies off–is to turn our back on a third of our creative selves. What’s left is two-thirds–a barely passing grade anywhere. Most of all in one’s soul, where the nub of the desire to write as well as we possibly can, lies.

    • Hi Toby,

      Thank you as always, for getting to the heart of all things writerly! The troika of “talent, hard work, and courage” — how perfectly that captures what we need to bring our visions and ideas to life — bravo!

      You are so write (how’s that for a slip!), we must always gather our courage along with our other gifts and bring them to the page fully and with gusto — that’s our job and our calling.

      Write on, Karin

      Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:32:37 +0000 To: kmja_w@hotmail.com

  2. Karin, I understand what you’re saying. I always think that if I can get the idea, then I can make it work on the page. Right now, I’m working on a short memoir piece for which I had an idea. Not sure I can make it work, though. Here’s the problem: I have always shied away from writing about my childhood–a painful one (isn’t everyone’s?)–but I had the idea of writing in the voice of the middle child, my sister–letting her tell the family story. I made a good start, and it was going so well that I abandoned the pose and stepped in and revealed myself, the oldest child, as the true writer, and finished the story. Now friends and my workshop colleagues at The Write Group say it’s a trick, and it’s not right to “fool” the reader. Not sure. Haven’t given up on it yet.

    • Hi Martha,

      Thanks so much for sharing a writing challenge you’re facing. I so admire your tackling a personal topic on the page — that’s writing dangerously in the best sense. So often, it’s hard to know exactly the form a story should take — even a memoir — and playing with voice can help you strike the right balance between what you reveal and what you conceal.

      I’d sit with the comments readers have given you for a while and then revisit them with a fresh eye. In the end, it’s your story, but if you are putting it out for people to read, you’ll want them to feel that you’ve been both true to yourself and to them. Hope this helps. Just remember what Christopher Robin said to Pooh, “Promise me you’ll always remember that you are braver than you believe…”

      And write on, Karin

      Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:34:38 +0000 To: kmja_w@hotmail.com

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