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View Full Version : Round one... Fight hard? Or build up some momentum, THEN fight hard?



Virector
07-28-2008, 10:37 AM
Forgive me if this comes across as a 'foolish' question, but I've been arguing with myself about this: Should you write your first book based on your 'awesomest' idea, or should you save your 'awesomest' idea for when you have a bit of recognition (if at all you ever get... 'recognized'...) The things is, I've started work on my first 'proper' book and, well, it features my favorite characters and a plot I can't believe I cooked up myself, but I fear that if it gets published as my first book (as a no-name nothing), my finest tale could go to waste and dissapear in the rubble of books which never made it. So my question is, do you go all-out and throw out your imagination's finest the first time around, or do you hold on to that until you feel confident you might actually get read? I'm sorry if this sounds dumb; I'd just like to hear from others. Thanks.

Deccydiva
07-28-2008, 10:59 AM
I would go for it; if it's that good it will be the one that does get read widely and be recommended to others, get good reviews, and so on whether you are a "name" or not. Although readers will follow favourite authors many will be intrigued by a new name; when I moved to Ireland I wanted to move into Irish novelists of the genre I like and I was unfamiliar with most of the "best selling" names but I browsed the bookstores, read the back covers, bought a few and now have a new set of authors to favour.
My current book which has been out for nearly a year has a limited readership yet it has out-sold what is expected for its genre. The publishers believe that the next one, a novel of more general appeal will sell much better and also pull the first one along with it on the basis that if readers like one, they will look for other work by the same author.
Sorry if this is a bit rambling, I've recently rolled out of bed and I don't do mornings! :sleepy:
All the best with your venture, keep us posted!

Virector
07-28-2008, 11:05 AM
Thank you! That's interesting!

Prozyan
07-28-2008, 11:06 AM
It would be a silly idea to save your best idea for later and rely on lesser idea's to get you recognition.

Thats like asking if you should try your hardest or wait until you have some recognition before giving it your best effort.

Virector
07-28-2008, 12:15 PM
Yes, I hear you Prozyan, but try and think of it this way: Think of your writing career as a marathon, the end of the race of which is, well, fame and success and a hefty fortune, or whatever your goal as a writer is. Now, we all know that when you're running a marathon, if you start the race with a furious sprint, you probably won't get to the end, or if you do, you'll be worn-down and exhausted. That's how I'm thinking of this; what if you dish out your best idea and create a name and/or expectations from readers, and you can't deliver because you chose to start 'the race' with a sprint which you couldn't sustain? Would it still be a good idea to use your finest characters and ideas now, and be left with the lesser ideas? Thoughts, please?

Barb D
07-28-2008, 12:15 PM
And who's to say you won't have even better ideas later? Who says that all your ideas have to have revealed themselves by now?

Virector
07-28-2008, 12:20 PM
Aahh... Good point... But say, like me, you are not very prolific and you don't really feel confident the 'cool' stories will keep coming? I don't know... Is it worth the risk of 'wasting' (if I may call it that) a good idea, or do you hold on to it, at least until more fantastic ideas start popping up in your head?

Prozyan
07-28-2008, 12:31 PM
Think of your writing career as a marathon, the end of the race of which is, well, fame and success and a hefty fortune, or whatever your goal as a writer is.

The analogy is flawed because it assumes that you will be in the race from the start.

You aren't.

You have to earn your way into the race. Often, more than once. And you what you are proposing is earning your way into the race with less than your best effort. Think of it this way: There are literally tens of thousands of writers out there putting forth their very best each and every time trying to earn their way into the race. You are suggesting that you want to compete against them with less than your best. What sense does that make?

Prozyan
07-28-2008, 12:36 PM
But say, like me, you are not very prolific and you don't really feel confident the 'cool' stories will keep coming?

abyssus abyssum invocat

Hell calls Hell. Fairly popular latin saying and it works for a lot of things. Success breeds success, etc, etc.

In other words, the more you delve into your imagination, the deeper the well gets.

Virector
07-28-2008, 12:38 PM
...Oh. I see, then... But I still feel like I should hold on, until I can think of something else. I'm sorry, I know I seem rather stubborn and foolish; I probably am, but I'm really insecure. I guess that's just the way I am... It's the same reason why I NEVER wear my best shirt or pants because I feel like something really special has to happen for me to be seen in them, or the same reason I never show people my best artwork (of some of my characters) because I fear they'll get stolen, or they'll lose their 'worth' if they get seen before their time... Maybe I have issues, but I'm always a 'save the best for last' kinda person, even with trivial things such as a plate of food; I won't eat the juiciest piece of steak or the most tasty looking [insert name of food hear] until everything else in the plate is gone... That is my insight on the perspective from which I'm looking at this...

Virector
07-28-2008, 12:51 PM
The analogy is flawed because it assumes that you will be in the race from the start. You have to earn your way into the race.

Am I take it you mean you have to prove you can run faster than everyone else before you're in the race?

caromora
07-28-2008, 12:53 PM
If you don't start with your best, shiniest book, what makes you think a reader will bother reading your second one?

There are tons of books out there competing for readers' attention (not to mention all the other stuff competing for their time). You want your story to be so unique and awesome that they will be looking for your next effort.

And anyway, if your first book doesn't sell well, you might not even get a contract for a second one. You might have to use a pen name, and then your second "awesome idea" book will be pushed as a debut anyway.

All of that is skipping over the part about agents and editors reading thousands of queries and possibly hundreds of partials and fulls a year. If your book isn't the best it can be, they have no reason to want to represent it.

Virector
07-28-2008, 12:58 PM
And anyway, if your first book doesn't sell well, you might not even get a contract for a second one. You might have to use a pen name, and then your second "awesome idea" book will be pushed as a debut anyway.


*Gasp*... that would be thoroughly unpleasant...

caromora
07-28-2008, 01:05 PM
I recommend reading "How Do Writers Get Paid" by Holly Lisle. Here (http://hollylisle.com/fm/Articles/faqs5.html#5) is a link. It explains in pretty good, explicit detail how important it is ALWAYS to put your strongest effort out there and nothing less.

Virector
07-28-2008, 01:21 PM
Thanks so much for the link. It's very insightful and very eye opening.

ishtar'sgate
07-28-2008, 09:59 PM
...Oh. I see, then... But I still feel like I should hold on, until I can think of something else.
I'm assuming from this that you only have an idea, you haven't actually started writing? I think you'll find that if you are not passionate about your idea in the first place, you won't likely finish the manuscript anyway. Writing a novel length piece takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. You will probably have extreme ups and downs, think what you've written is terrific and think what you've written sucks pond water. You need the enthusiasm for your vision to sustain you throughout the whole process. A so-so idea simply won't cut it.
I thought I only had one good idea, too. I put so much into writing that novel I fully expected I'd never have another idea I'd be excited about. I was wrong and I'm totally engrossed in my current WIP.
IMO you should go with your awesome idea and write the book.
Linnea

virtue_summer
07-28-2008, 10:13 PM
1) The idea isn't the clincher in deciding if a book is worth reading. The execution is.
2) If you don't give it everything you have you're likely to regret it later.
3) I don't believe that you'll never get another great idea. Seriously, I had this same fear about halfway through my current manuscript. I thought "wow. I really like this but I don't have any other ideas, at least not any that are as good as this. So even if it's published, what if it turns out to be a one hit wonder?" A month later I was struck by an idea, sat down and wrote out the first couple chapters of my next book. And guess what? I think it's just as good, if not better, than the current one. Ideas can be funny. Sometimes they rush at you in bunches. Sometimes they crawl toward you slowly single file. Either way, when you're really ready for it I think the right idea will come along and that working on what you have in the meantime helps. Use your imagination and it encourages it to keep working for you.
My advice: Take your great idea and turn it into a great book. Worry about finding other ideas later.

Dale Emery
07-28-2008, 11:09 PM
The things is, I've started work on my first 'proper' book and, well, it features my favorite characters and a plot I can't believe I cooked up myself, but I fear that if it gets published as my first book (as a no-name nothing), my finest tale could go to waste and dissapear in the rubble of books which never made it.

It sounds as if you want to save your best idea for when you have already made a name for yourself.

Are you supposing that you can make a name for yourself with ideas that you consider less than your best? What do you think are the chances of that?

Dale

MsK
07-29-2008, 12:05 AM
I had similar feelings a few years back when I first came up with my brilliant idea, Virector. I thought I should use one of my lesser story ideas as my first attempt and save my biggie for the follow-up.
I see it differently now- writing is difficult enough to break into without giving your best efforts on everything you write- and if you are new, you'd better come in with something damn good to even have a chance.
BTW, I still haven't finished my WIP using that idea- working on it now. And here's a part that I hope inspires you to use your great idea now- I have come up with several new "briliant ideas" since that time and it will not be a struggle to write my next novel and have it be equally, if not more, brilliant and interesting.

Dale Emery
07-29-2008, 12:20 AM
Another thought: If your awesomest idea won't sell without a reputation, then your less-than-awesomest ideas won't build your reputation.

Dale

Phaeal
07-29-2008, 12:20 AM
The Muse hates a miser. Give her your best every time, and she'll keep giving you more "bests."

JeanneTGC
07-29-2008, 03:45 AM
There are no new ideas under the sun. Not even yours, brilliant and sparkling though it may be in your mind. The Bible got them all and whatever it might have missed Shakespeare swept up. It doesn't matter -- ideas are a dime a dozen -- it's how you execute your ideas that matter.

Write the book you want to write. Finish it. Edit it. Send it out for beta review and edit some more. Potentially re-write it. Polish it until it shines to perfection.

Once you've done THAT, then it's time to fret about whether or not it's going to make a name for you or not. Because, right now, you've got nothing and you're going to keep on having nothing until you buckle down and create something, whatever that something is.

No writer's name was ever made on anything but a finished work.

Quossum
07-29-2008, 05:27 AM
I can relate. I'm kinda sorta holding back an already-completed but unrefined saga about my "favorite" characters. It's a trilogy, the last book of which is well over 100,000 words. I would feel a little uncomfortable approaching a publisher as a first time author with such a series in hand. I feel that maybe I should show my mettle first.

All these comments about "giving it your all" make a little uncomfortable, though. The MS I'm working on now, intending for it to be published, isn't "not as good as" the massive trilogy; it's just more independent and not quite as precious to me. It's still a great book and hopefully represents my best ability. (Though it still has some work to go to make it the best that it can possibly be.)

I can also relate to the worries about "having only a few good stories in me." I start getting nervous whenever I get towards the end of a novel, worrying that this will be the one that runs my creative well dry. Hasn't happened yet, though there have been a few "between novel" intervals where I took a writing break. The well has always been renewed sooner or later, though, and each new piece I write feels better than the one before.

--Q

Danger Jane
07-29-2008, 08:27 AM
My first REAL trunk novel, the first one I wrote multiple drafts of, is based on my absolute favorite fairy tale, and yea, now I'm saving it for when I'm really good. Not my original take on it, but the actual tale of Beauty and the Beast. Besides, I have 8 other long-form stories to do first, and elements from the fairy tale seep into my other stories. It'll come out better that way and I won't have to be like Robin McKinley, writing two Beauty and the Beasts.

Even more besides, I love the story I'm working on now.

Toothpaste
07-29-2008, 09:07 AM
Well I think there are a lot of flawed conclusions being drawn in the initial premise. For example, many an author has made a debut that has swept the world, that has placed his/her name on the map. To Kill A Mockingbird was a one off by Harper Lee, there was no second "superior" novel.

Nor does writing an awesome idea mean that it lives only between the pages of the draft you wrote. If you write a less than satisfactory version of your book, you can, you know, change it, return to it after a time.

Lastly this idea that you only have one truly awesome idea is ridiculous. Right now you see this idea as being the most awesome idea you can write. Hon, even though you claim you are not prolific, there is no way to know what new stories you will come up with as life changes you. The story I am writing right now I had not an even inkling I was going to write a few months ago, but right now it is the most exciting thing I've ever written. You simply cannot predict the future right now.

Write the book. Write your passion. That is the most important thing right now. If it's crap, fix it later on. But don't hold back, because holding back never got anyone anywhere.

Virector
07-29-2008, 10:59 AM
Thanks everyone for the responses! I'm starting to get a clearer image of what I'm going to do.