So yesterday I finished off The Price of Independence, after 26 days working on it. And those 26 days don’t count the several days I wrote other things instead. In all I spent more than a month on that one story. That’s as long as it took me to write all the other Prices stories together.
That’s okay, stories are done when they’re done. The problem then becomes what to do next?
Instead of having something known to go back to and work on, I’m left with a blank canvas, a world without boundaries. I can write everything, which too often means I can write nothing. So I start looking for ways to narrow things down.
1: It can give you valuable sparks of inspiration that serve as catalysts for new ideas that give you new directions to explore.
2: It can be an evil time suck that keeps you from writing anything for days.
Obviously I try for #1.
I visited TVTropes again today when the time came to do my writing, and one of the very first that came up is something that’s been pinging around inside my head for a long time; years in fact. Not so much a whole story idea as a setting; I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction, and would like to try my hand at some fairly soon.
On the other hand, the pseudo-Christmas story I wrote over the holidays was set in the far future in what could be argued as post-apocalyptic Earth, so maybe I already have. It was fun to write too, as a mini-break from the proto-steampunk of Prices. Some more straight up sci-fi might be fun to get into.
That’s the other thing I do to come up with new ideas; your current writing is your most fertile ground for new concepts, whether they’re directly related to your current projects or not. Prices is a good example of that. I had only the roughest, most primitive ideas of what I wanted from that series of stories when I began writing The Price of Independence back in October. As I wrote it and then set it aside to write the others in November, ideas came to me faster and more readily as the fiction informed my thinking, metaphorically speaking to me and telling me which ideas to explore next.
Ultimately I think that’s the best source of new ideas, but you’ll still find me browsing TV tropes now and then. Send a rescue team if I’m there longer than a week though!
More on Prices:
I originally envisioned Prices as the title of a book, with the six stories I’ve written making up the book once they’re all done. I’ve been wondering lately though if maybe Prices is more of a series name and each of the stories should be more of a novella-length piece in the series. Either way I go with Prices, the six existing stories are not the end. I can and will write more in that series, and soon I’ll need another new lead character.