When an Idea Falls Short

Posted: October 8, 2012 in Discussions, On Writing
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Have you ever had that stroke of genius that felt so perfectly amazing that it got you really excited about writing? Have you ever started working on that idea, only to find it’s not working like you’d hoped?

This has happens to me occasionally, and I’ve often wondered where I went wrong. I believe it’s poor story planning on my part. I have this problem with failing to sit down and figure out my story line before I write. Generally, I get an idea and I run with it (once it’s fully or even partially formed in my mind), leaving my story one or two-dimensional with massive, gaping holes. Why do I do this?

I think it has something to do with my getting too excited over a project before I sit down to do it. Not that writing a story without planning it out always ends disastrously, but it has its disadvantages. I’ve been trying a little harder lately, to find the storyline in the jumbled mess of ideas I call my brain. Two of my more recent short stories, I had actually sat down after writing a paragraph and thought about where I wanted the story to go and how I wanted it to end. One of them I got great feedback on, the other is still waiting to be read.

When you go to write a story and have really no clue how it may end or what may happen, you are basically feeling around in the dark. Turn on a flashlight. Take a pause from your writing, look at all your ideas and give them the time to fully develop into the beauties you know they can be. Who wants to go out for the night after only getting ready part way? Think of your stories as you would your outfit, makeup (for women), and hair before you go out on the most important night of your life. You want to be prepared for anything, right? Why should your stories be any different?

Next time you find that AMAZING idea, give it time, allow it to grow, to blossom into something beautiful, before you send it out to the dance with no shoes and flat hair. There’s no formula for how long you have to think on an idea, and really it’s not like you absolutely HAVE to, but try it out, wait it out a bit, and when it’s right, you’ll feel it. Your story will have its high heels buckled, its hair perfectly curled, makeup perfectly done, a gorgeous dress on, and it will be ready to dance the night away, if you’ll let it.

Please, share how you feel about developing ideas. Do you tend to get a strand of an idea and run with it, or do you take your time to allow the idea to mature? Moreover, how much time do you allow yourself to ponder an idea before you put your pen to the paper?

  1. I have actually found that if i think too much about an idea it becomes stale and overworked. But if I sit down in front of a notebook (never a computer) and just write I discover brilliant things I never knew were there. Then after I get it all out from beginning to end I go back and edit so it makes sense. I absolutely cannot plan out a story before I write without making that story sound contrived. But I think it’s purely a personal thing. Some great writers say they plan and plan and some great writers just write and then fix it in the edit.

    • Lakin Konieczny says:

      There are certain times when a writing process similar to yours works best for me too. I suppose it sort of depends on the mood I’m in and how easily I can get ideas on paper. I don’t think I’ve entirely figured out what works best for me though.
      But thanks for sharing.

  2. kabir says:

    I think for me as a writer, things start to fall apart when I think about my one idea. The way it works for me is to have just a one-line idea and let it take me where it will. Not that it always succeeds. But mostly, it manages to turn itself into something superb – well, something superb for me, at least.


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