Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Big Idea, Part 2

So, as I alluded to in a post earlier this week, I'm close to cracking book #3. Which is both exhilarating and terrifying. The thought of tackling 300+ pages is always a daunting one for me, and there is nothing I loathe more than opening up that very first Word document and staring at the vast blankness in front of me.

BUT. I do think I have my BIG IDEA, which is why I appreciate the below Meg Cabot video. For me, everything about my writing and about my books stems from this BIG IDEA. So I sit and wait around for this big idea to hit me (well, not really: I'm aggressively trying to tune into everything around me - conversations, songs, trends, etc - to tap into this big idea), and once I do, I'm off to the races.

Along the way of putting out various feelers for this BIG IDEA, I've discovered - as has Meg Cabot, evidently - that not all ideas are created equal. What editors and publishing houses often look for (at least in commercial fiction) is what they deem a high-concept idea. This is one that can be summed up in one sentence and is really marketable. In ToML's case, for example, it's something like, "Discontented housewife wakes up one morning seven years in her past and has a chance to answer her 'what ifs.'" BAM. High concept. Adaptable for a movie. Everyone gets it.

And these high concept ideas are often (though again, not always, but still, often) what create BIG books. I've had plenty of great smaller ideas come to me over these past few months, but the simple truth is that I know these are quieter books; they are not has concept-driven as ToML, and while, certainly, you shouldn't write for trends or anything like that, you CAN try to make your book as marketable as possible. Is this selling out? Maybe a little. But listen to Meg Cabot - a huge, best selling author -say that she has plenty of books that no one has bought because the idea just wasn't appealing enough, and you'll realize that this is all part of the game. The BIG IDEA has to be there and people have to fall in love with it. The rest of it is, of course, critical too: the writing, relatable characters, etc. I'm not discounting that for a second, but that universal, sellable idea needs to be in place.

So...I'm just sort of rambling here and hope I've made some sort of point! :) I guess my point is that I've had plenty of ideas come to me, but I think I've finally found one that will please all parties - my editor, the marketing team, my agent,readers, and, of course, me, since I'm the one who has to construct this world entirely from scratch.

I hope this doesn't come off like me saying, "Look for that commercially appealing concept and discard everything else," because that sounds sort of shallow. But the truth is, something that Meg Cabot's video makes clear, is that you have to keep the commercial viability in mind when you're coming up with your book idea, because if you don't, you're sunk before you've even begun.

Agree? Disagree?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Big Idea

I just came across this Meg Cabot video on Trashionista, and I love it because she talks (a little bit) about her writing process, which sounds very similar to mine. Basically, she's all about the BIG IDEA. I'll talk more about that later this week, but in the meantime, enjoy. She also chats about how she has SO many ideas that have never gone anywhere, so don't be discouraged if your rejection pile is huge too.

She's so cute. (And no, I don't even know her personally, but I love that she admits to looking herself up!)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Sigh of Relief

Taking a break from ToML stuff and industry-stuff today because I am so freakin' happy that it's election day! Not because we'll finally know who is going to helm our country for the next four years (though there's that too), but because, to be honest, I am suffering from election-fatigue, and I'm sincerely looking forward to life post:11/04/08. Anyone else?

In other good news (and other causes for sighs of relief), I think I am nearly ready to start my next book. More on that later in the week because, let's be honest, nobody is doing anything other than tuning into CNN/FoxNews/MSNBC today (depending on your loyalties), and while some of us (present company included) might rather lose themselves in a good work of fiction, we're instead very much focused on the realities of today. So let's sit back and watch them, and I'll be back with more in a bit.

And I won't even bother to tell y'all to go vote because I know that you're a bunch of smarties who would never let that opportunity (and gift of freedom) pass you by.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Few More Links While I Try to Get My Act Together

So I have every intention of posting some industry-related posts, but I am fighting a losing battle with my in-box and replying to emails right now. So while I attempt to swim upstream, here are a few more Q/As I did as of late. Actually, though, now that I think of it, some of them have industry-related answers, so maybe I'm not a total disappointment!

Oh, also, I know that there are some new readers here who are anxious for how-to-break-in tips. Before I get into that, please do search the archives, and I think you'll find lots of good info. Not that I'm averse to discussing this again, but just to point you in the right direction...

Anyway, a few good links:

Side Dish -

Editor Unleashed -

Riley's Ramblings -

Daisy Whitney's New Media Minute: (This isn't a Q/A, but Daisy is always discussing interesting media issues, and she also happens to mention the book this week. Check out here site for more and sign up for her mailing list or follow her on Twitter!)