Combining All Your Great Ideas to Make One Great Story

Nov 29, 2010

I'm letting Devs sit for a while so I can revise again with better perspective. Meanwhile, I've started on a new book. I've had two ideas vying for my attention lately, so I started developing both to see which one would get more interesting to me at the moment.


Whenever I'm trying to flesh out a basic idea, I do what I call an "idea dump" document. I write down the idea, and any others that come to me while brainstorming. I also write down all the questions I have-- like "why," and "how," and "so what" and try to answer them. As I did this for one of my ideas, I had a sudden stroke of genius.

What if I combined this idea with the other idea? And then combined it with an older idea from an unused story?

My wheels began to turn, and the ideas clicked into place. I went from one interesting but possibly unoriginal idea to a story combining three of the greatest ideas I've had yet. And it's going to make one awesome story.

If you've ever listened to Writing Excuses, this is actually a method they advocate for creating an original story-- combining two or more ideas that seem different into one story. If you used one of those ideas, you might have a neat story. But if you use them both in the same story, it goes from pretty good to pretty amazing.

But you might be crying, "Wait! I don't want to use all my ideas in one story! I won't have ideas left for another one!" Lest you forget, you are a writer. A storymaker. Someone who can take a line from a movie or a picture on a wall and ask a "what if." You will have more ideas.

So, my friends, take a look at the stories and ideas floating around in your head. Can you combine any of them? Have you combined ideas before, making your story more complex and unique?

15 comments:

mshatch said...

what a great post! I may just go home tonight and see if I can do a little mix and match :) Thanks!

Patti said...

I was wondering about my next book, whether I should combine the two, which might make it hard to manage, but like you said, might be more interesting. Great post.

Marieke said...

I was talking with one of my CP's about this the other day, when we were discussing a plot point in my WIP. It essentially led to the same decision - "What if you combine this storyline with that idea...?" It sounded simply fun at first, but the more I got to play around with, the more enthused I became. Because yes, it leads to great stories. But it's also a great writing challenge. And isn't that the best combination? :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I've mixed ideas from different sources many times. It's fun, discovering all the different ways things can go together!

Julie Musil said...

That's so awesome! I'm so glad you thought to do that. I can't say that I've heard that advice before, so I'll definitely keep in mind for future projects.

I read in another blog post to never hold anything good back. Use it now, on the piece you're working on. That writer said the same thing...you'll have more ideas.

Thanks for the awesome tip.

Angie said...

That's a great method. When I am wondering what direction to take the plot, I like to write down all the possibilities, even the dumb ones that I know I won't use. Sometimes you really have to dig for the golden ideas.

Emy Shin said...

I've always been afraid of "using up" all my great ideas, but at the speed all these ideas are popping up (much, much faster than I can write them!), I'm revising my opinions. I've definitely lifted ideas and plot twists from previous WiPs before. :)

And congrats on the cool, combined idea!

Madeleine said...

very thought provoking because yes most people perceive things visually and the author working with the arits gets to bounce ideas off someone which is really great. I am currebtly wondering if I can combine two of my ideas, but decided that no they were probably not compatible, though I would love a writing partner like Annie Sanders: http://scribbleandedit.blogspot.com/2010/11/annie-sanders-guest-author-interview.html :O)

M Pax said...

Combining can be fun. Especially ideas from others. Since they're not writers, they are flattered when their ideas make it into my stories.

The combo is where we can become original. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Oh yeah!! I had a nice, well-crafted story for my first book, but a sequel? Heck no! I think I dumped about ten ideas into that outline and more keep appearing.

Milo James Fowler said...

I have a bad habit of combining too many "good" ideas into one story only to realize later it's actually TWO stories -- like conjoined twins that have to be separated at the head. The plus side is, after a successful surgery, I have TWO stories to submit to TWO different markets.
Write1Sub1

Brenda Drake said...

I've always believed that going in with two big guns instead of one you'll have a better shot at hitting your target. Ummm, maybe I should write about a vampire cowboy...just a thought. No, really, if I can, I do combine things and see what happens. I love having to figure out the mess afterward. Great post! :D

Anonymous said...

Great post. Can’t wait to read the next ones :)

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