Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

RTW: It Ain't Happenin' Cap'n!

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Brainstorming song of the day: "Hold On"- En Vogue

Our aces over at YA Highway have done it again with a thought-provoking Road Trip Wednesday question. They want to know: when do you know when a project is going to work, and when it's not?

Well, let us start with the when it's not, because that is so much more fun! A couple of years ago, we read the Twilight series, and the Sookie Stackhouse series and we thought- HEY! We can do that! So, we concocted an idea about African American (AA) vampires that live amongst humans on reservations (a la Native Americans). Our protagonist was a badass AA chick who was going to fall in love with an AA man who was *gasp* human. Of course, drama would ensue because, OF COURSE, vampires and humans are forbidden to be together.

How did we know it wasn't going to work?
  • It was too forced.
  • We weren't in love with the idea to begin with.
  • We didn't really flesh out all the details- basically we were just jumping on the bandwagon.
  • If you don't find yourself thinking about your characters and what they would do/think/say in any given situation- then the project is probably not going to work.
  • If you aren't completely fall on your face, head over heels, slap your mamma in love with your initial idea- then it ain't gonna work!
** But don't fret-we have a new KILLER idea for a collaboration novel. Boo yah!**

So, how do you know your project is going to work?

  • When you can't wait to brainstorm what might happen to your characters next (whether it be through an outline like Pam did for her completed manuscript Wants, or whether it be through scribbled notes on an index card, in a notebook, and on your laptop somewhere like Quita did for her completed manuscript Chasing Manson).
  • When you can watch TV/listen to the radio/watch a movie and compare things that happen to what happens in your novel.
  • When you find yourself thinking, "that's something (insert character name's here) would say!"
  • When you want to flesh out your idea- i.e. bounce it off of others and see what they think.
  • When you can figure out the genre that your novel belongs in
  • When you can write a query letter that kicks ass!
  • And finally, when you want to...well...slap your mamma because you think your idea is that unique, interesting, and inventive.

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Tahereh said...

haha great post ladies! you're too funny :D

The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

Next time I slap my mamma because of a good idea, I'm saying it's because you told me to do it.

Awesome post! :D

KO said...

I think that obsessive element is a big part of it. If you just can't stop, that's a good sign.
While I think it's good to be savvy about trends, the real truth is that nobody knows what the next big thing is until it's already happened. When you write something authentic you have a much better chance of creating something worthwhile.

Kate Hart said...

I love you girls and I'm loving the team blog. Right on about the "watching TV/radio" point-- I feel like I grab a pen every other song.

Pam Harris said...

Thanks for the love, ladies! :) And KO, I totally agree with you about the trend issue. I say we start our own trends. :)

Sarah Enni said...

The obsessive "slap your momma" love is totally the key. If you don't love your idea from the start, how are you going to love it in the hell of revision?

And I second Kate's woohoo! to the team blogging! Can't wait to see the new site Monday.

Jess said...

"When you can watch TV/listen to the radio/watch a movie and compare things that happen to what happens in your novel."--I do that ALL the time!! It's so great!

And obsessed? I totally am....

Emilia Plater said...

"We weren't in love with the idea to begin with." - such an important thing. LOVE the slap your mamma line, LOL. Awesome post!

Michelle Schusterman said...

Absolutely awesome lists, and so very true!!

Leila Austin said...

LOVE the slap your mamma line. Awesome!

And I agree! Great projects are about passion, not just jumping on the bandwagon of what's popular.

Although having said that, I would seriously love to see more vampires who aren't, you know, white and sparkly ;-)

Racquel Henry said...

I love that "Slap your mamma its so good" phrase lol. Great post, I know a project is going to work when I can't stop thinking about it! The characters are constantly talking to me and I'm always jotting things down. Oh, and Pam I sent some of my good mood your way on my blog post from Tuesday lol :)

Abby Stevens said...

Such a great breakdown of why it often does or doesn't work. And honestly, your collaboratory idea doesn't sound bad at all! I would pick a book like that up.