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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | How Does a Shiny New Idea Lose its Luster?

How Does a Shiny New Idea Lose its Luster?

Oh, those glittery SNI’s! We’ve all been attracted by them at one point. Sometimes they try to tempt us away from a WIP just as the work is getting tough. Sometimes they pose as the next big project, until we realize they have no substance to them.

When do you realize your SNI is not what you hoped it would be?

For me, it’s usually a case of the “story idea” being more of a concept or a gimmick – with no actual story attached. It defies outlining OR pantstering. It stalls within a few chapters because there’s nowhere to go. My last SNI had no definable ending and only random plot events that seemed rather shallow and pointless when I tried to put them in logical order. The one before that lacked a central conflict strong enough to carry the storyline.

Now, that’s not to say that some story ideas don’t transform themselves into something entirely different. That happens to me when the characters hijack the story and take it someplace I never expected to go – and when it occurs, I know I’ve got a winner.

And it’s not to say that stories should be abandoned if they don’t take off within a few chapters. I started one manuscript three times before I understood my main character and discovered the real story.

But when the idea was never “a story” to begin with – that’s harder to fix. The best thing I can do is store the idea on my computer. Maybe someday, I’ll be working on a different story and need just that element – you never can tell. But for the time being, it’ll stay in that file labeled Fool’s Gold.

9 Responses to How Does a Shiny New Idea Lose its Luster?

  1. Sarah says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could detect the iron pyrite ideas BEFORE we spent hours and sometimes weeks or months on them? I have trouble deciding it’s not going anywhere, and still more trouble letting go. Just this morning, I woke up with this crazy idea, and I know it’s going to be churning in my brain for a very long time (not that I have time to write it now, anyway). I just wish I would know right away if it was worth the time!

  2. E. Arroyo says:

    Yeah, I have a 43K word one that’s “simmering”. It’s probably boiling and dissipating at this point. I don’t know what happened. I think your right about it not having a solid story behind it. It was an extension of a short story and I think I forced it to go where it shouldn’t. It’s nice to know I can use it later, maybe.

  3. Linda G. says:

    Great label.

    You’re smart not to completely discard immature story ideas — you never know what they might grow into while you’re looking the other way. 🙂

  4. This is why I do a lot of preplanning first. It’s during this time that I’ll see whether a SNI has any merit or if it has to be rethought.

  5. Unfortunately, I’ve always tended to spend a lot of time trying to turn turds into gold. Whether it be an idea, or a person, once I invest the initial time into something or someone, I HATE to give up on it.

  6. Sun Singer says:

    I used to think up all the wonderful phrases that seemed perfect as the first lines of poems or novels, but that’s all they were. They were very new, very shiny, and if I paid attention to them, they sure could use up a lot of time.


  7. Lenny Lee* says:

    hi miss dianne! for sure all thats nice and shiny isnt alway gold. but its good to try doing it cause you could always learn something. i like that you save your stuff even if its not gold.
    …hugs from lenny

  8. Susan Fields says:

    My Fool’s Gold folder is pretty large, but hopefully one of these days I’ll be able some of those ideas to use somehow.

  9. mshatch says:

    I like that term: fool’s gold. I have a lot of it but I sure hope some of it pans out – pun intended 🙂