Saturday, April 2, 2011

A pink sequin and a great idea

It's not every day you wake up with a pink sequin on your arm and a great idea in your head.

Continuing briefly on the subject of yesterday is mildly useful in beginning the explanation.  The point of walking, if I recall what Stephen King said on the matter in his rather meandering memoir on the craft (which is another way of saying "I just spent fifteen minutes looking for the reference, and now I'm giving up") is that the mind works well to solve problems when not focused on them.  A walk is, according to the master, a rather healthy way of getting your brain to stop focusing on your storytelling.  I agree, for what it's's impossible, for me at least, to continue to stew over something while I'm walking and looking and listening to the world around me.  The active parts of my conscience focus on the cherry blossoms, the rustling wind, the dog that is barking at me despite his complete inability to come anywhere close to me, etc., which leaves my unconscious mind free to delve into whatever it wishes to.  That's the theory, anyway, and it's borne out by the book I reference (ish) here as well as by all sorts of psychological studies I've read about in the past but have no access to now. 

It's also borne out by this morning's experience, though not in walking.  The same thing happens when we sleep, which is why they say "sleep on it" as a means of solving problems (a phrase also used, too often, as a crutch against having to deal with problems immediately, but that's a different topic).  It worked today, and I'm pretty excited to implement the new idea. 

Like all of my great ideas to date, it's really not all that, it's really something I should've thought of long ago.  I'd describe it more as a blinding flash of the obvious, honestly.  It's not like I've ever woken up with the grand Unified Field Theory floating around between my neurons (but what if I did, hmm?  Another story idea...).  No, this one's pretty simple.  I figured out how to fix what I think is the last remaining crappiness of my trilogy.

See, I KNOW the story.  Packaging the story as a trilogy seemed logical, based on it playing out in my mind as an epic tale.  I know the first book well, which is why I stormed right through it.  I know the end of the story well, which is why I'm chomping at the bit to write the last book.  The second book, I've kinda been taking little bits and pieces between revisions of Book #1 while hoping that a great story would appear.  I've come up with an idea that Crystal would be sent off in search of a missing person, but I'm not sure a fantasy-mystery-fantasy trilogy would really work...I probably wouldn't buy it, in any case.  But I have to keep the story moving, and there's got to be a sellable sub-story in each book.  I certainly don't want to buy a book that's clearly just there to be part of a series, do you? 

Oh, and Book #1 is too short to be a standard novel still.  Have I mentioned that recently?  Yes, a story should be as long as it takes to tell it, and yadda yadda also, but 70K words are still a tough sell, from what I read. 

Oh, and trilogies by unknown authors are a tough sell, from what I read. 

So here it brilliant idea...ready for it? 

Write a book instead of a trilogy. 

See what I mean about blinding flashes of the obvious?  When I say it like that, I hear a resounding chorus of "Duh!" in my brain.  From a business perspective, I guess I just had to break free of my trilogy paradigm and be willing to consider other packaging for the story.  It's like the dog food manufacturer waking up one day saying, "Hey, let's package dog food in 8 pound bags instead of 40 pound bags, because our target market is actually women, and they find the 8 pound bags easier to lift."  Well, that's a weak simile, to be sure, but it at least approaches the same type of enlightenment.  To a casual observer, it seems obvious, but to the guy who's been wracking his brain trying to unsuck a situation, it's like a mental day in Disneyland.  Which is yet another crappy simile, but I'm on a roll now. 

Incidentally, I have no idea of the timing of 8 pound bags versus 40 pound bags of dog food.  I just recall a conversation a long time ago with a dog food marketing dude about why they sold the smaller bags for so much more per pound.  They wouldn't call it artistic license if it wasn't there to be abused, right? 

So, off I go, to create the new end of Book 1.  I only thought I was done.  But at least it won't suck...I hope.

Oh, and the pink sequin?  From my wife's crafting project of yesterday.  It was just quite an oddity to wake up with it on my arm. 

Word count: Oh, bite me

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