Idea Ideas

Here’s my dilemma. I’ve got three (possible four) solid novel ideas that I’ve been toying with over the last few weeks. As I’ve said, I don’t have writer’s block, writing is not the problem. It’s a matter of finding the right project. I’ve got roughly three and a half months left before the baby comes. That gives me time for most of a first draft and that’s about it. I don’t have time for experimentation and dallying around. But I don’t know which of these ideas should win out. It’s not a matter of solely writing for the market, but I need to figure out which of these ideas has the most potential for a solid opening for my novel career. So here we go:

1. RUINS OF DETROIT – A multi-viewpoint crime novel featuring a PI, a failed newspaper reporter/mystery writer, and an Internal Affairs detective learning the ropes all in the arena of Detroit politics and the sport of urban exploration. I imagined this as a moodier book but when I started writing, it turned out a bit lighter and breezier than I hoped. That’s not a bad thing though and a hallmark of my own style I think. This one has the most potential of all of them I think, but I’m not sure my meager plotting skills can handle something this complex.

2. MURDER BOY – An Elmore Leonard-type crime caper about two college kids who end up on a wild ride through the underside of Detroit when they try to kidnap a professor who has wronged them. Based on my THUGLIT story which will be reprinted in HARDCORE HARDBOILED later this month. This one also has a ton of potential and I think plays to my own personal strengths and could work well like a Scott Phillips, Victor Gischler, Sean Doolittle thing. But I don’t know what the market is for this sort of thing anymore. I know VINNIE’S HEAD from Marc Lecard did well last year.

The other two I think are the sketchy of the group and probably won’t make the cut. DICK AND PINKY is a romantic comedy about a blocked writer who crosses paths with a sexy and tough bounty hunter and tags along while she searches for a gangster and BROTHER FANTASTIC is about a flamboyant (and slightly shady) revival preacher who sidelines as a soldier of fortune to help fund his ministry.

As I’m writing this, I’m starting to think Number 2 is going to be it because it’s something I’ve never tried. I’m tried the whodunit type plots and it hasn’t worked out so well for me so maybe it’s time for something a little more loose and free.


7 thoughts on “Idea Ideas

  1. Write the one you hold in your heart and not your head. In other words, write the one that excites you and let commercial concerns be damned. Otherwise, it will be a chore.
    This from someone, of course, who has no novels under her belt.

  2. Patti’s right, screw “the market.” There is no market. Write the book you want to read.

    Of the four mentioned, I’d be most interested in #2. Already I’m looking forward to seeing things spin out of control for these guys.

  3. Ditto what Patti and John said.

    This line:

    “but I need to figure out which of these ideas has the most potential for a solid opening for my novel career.”

    Makes me nervous. Outside of Nick Sparks and Lee Child, I don’t think anyone has ever made a career by thinking what would be the best thing to write from an industry point.

    That’s two out of how many hundreds (or thousands) have tried.

    Whereas, I would bet lots of dough that many, many careers have been launched because a writer wrote what he or she was the most passionate about. How many times have you heard successful writers talk about a manuscript that their agent hated, or that their writing group slammed, etc., that went on to launch a career.

    Quit looking at it with the left side of your brain. Not to sound, uh, less-than-manly, but… look inside your heart, see which idea you are truly “feeling” and write the shit out of it.

    The career crap will take care of itself.

  4. To hell with that! Write to the market! #2 is a much more commercial idea. Your excitement over that project comes through in the description – I don’t feel that you feel it for #1.

    You’ve got mouths to feed, bro. Strike whilethe market is hot, get your foot in the door, and THEN you can indulge the more experimental ideas. Once you’re branded, you sell anything. Till then, stick with the sure thing.

  5. I think I may have misstated what I was thinking. Both of these ideas are dear to my heart. It’s not like one of them is my passionate love and the other is something I came up with soley for crass commercial reasons. I like both of these ideas a lot, I’m just having trouble figuring out which one to proceed with. This is not a totally marketing decision. I just would like to know which of these ideas has the most potential.

  6. Have you written any chapters for either of them? If so, which was easier for you, which flowed more quickly without thinking about it?

    If not, write a couple of chapters of each. And see which one catches your imagination better. See which one you can get into more quickly.

    Because the easier and more quickly you latch on, I’d say that’s the one that is closer to your heart and should be pursued.

    I always write a first chapter first, to see if my idea is actually something that has legs. It’s a great litmus test.

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