When is an idea a distraction?

I have this idea for a novel. The only thing is that it doesn’t match with the type of writing I really feel I want to do. It would most likely be categorised under the great header of ‘chick lit’ – and while I understand that such fiction has a huge place in the market and a very encouraging following, I don’t imagine myself writing this type of fiction.

But, the idea won’t go away. Every so often it bubbles up to the surface and I can’t help but wonder what my two main characters are really like, how they might develop and what mark the story would have upon them. Sometimes, thinking of the climax makes my stomach clench: as, written well, it could make a great impact on a reader.

When I do try and sit down to capture something however, I stumble. It isn’t ready to come out yet. And, it doesn’t fire me up with passion to write it down either. Of all the ‘how to approac’ writing a novel’ books I have read (which is a few – I’m excellent at procrastinating) they all suggest that your first novel needs to be something you really, really want to tell: that you have to care about your characters and the story and that in times of struggle the desire to share this with others is what can spur you on. I can’t see this idea being one of those.

It’s as though this idea is a tester for writing methods. I’m willing to try out the various ways of laying out a story, modelling the characters and sculpting the plot, but I don’t have the motivation to sit down and write it. Maybe the idea isn’t really ready yet. Perhaps my mind is still playing around with it, and so all I can be expected to do right now is to do my best in putting together the pieces of a jigsaw, without realising I’m missing some of the pieces.

How do you know when an idea is the right one? How far down the garden path can an idea lead you before you realise it’s time to turn back and start over? Or, in leading you, can one idea inadvertantly take you to the beginning of another journey that you would never have discovered had it not been for that imaginary garden path?

I’m rambling. Something wants to come out, and I can’t seem to provide the appropriate set of words to spell out their meaning. If the muse is slowly being coaxed out, then it would be a shame to waste her.


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