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The Original Idea

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The idea is the heart of your story. Knowing it keeps you on target to complete the book and succeed. Idea is not story. Being able to state your idea in one sentence is key. We often spend an entire day at our writing workshop getting the four attendees to pin this one sentence down, but that's how important it is!

“A book to inspire, instruct and challenge the writer in everyone.”
#1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Susan Wiggs

"An invaluable resource for beginning and seasoned writers alike. Don't miss out."
#1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Terry Brooks

Published in: Education, News & Politics

The Original Idea

  1. 1. THE ORIGINAL IDEA: The Heart of Your Story RWR article
  2. 2. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re liable to end up somewhere else.” Casey Stengel. Add to that: If you don’t know where you’re coming from, you can’t navigate to where you want to go.
  3. 3. Do You Actually Need One Sentence? •Can you state the idea for your book in one sentence?
  4. 4. Do You Actually Need One Sentence? •Your creative process makes a difference. •A front-loading writer vs. a back-loading writer. •Is it clear from the start or do you have to discover it? •Genre makes a difference. •Thrillers, mysteries, suspense, science fiction, fantasy— definitely need one. •Romance, literary writing— more character based, so more flexible.
  5. 5. What Is Your Original Idea? •Good news is you had one. •Bad news is you probably forgot it. •It is usually the first thought you had (the spark of inspiration). •It is the foundation of your book, the seed.
  6. 6. •A character. •A plot. •A setting or scene. •An intent (theme). •A “What If”. •A “High Concept”. Original Ideas Can be Anything.
  7. 7. Original Ideas Can Be Anything. • Character: “A housewife and female assassin must uncover the truth of the men in their lives in order to uncover their destiny.” BODYGUARD OF LIES • Plot: “Same day, six different years, the Time Patrol must keep the Shadow from changing our timeline.” TIME PATROL • Setting or scene: “An international treaty bans weapons in Antarctica: What if the US put nuclear weapons there and lost track of them?” ETERNITY BASE • Intent/Theme: “Which is more important? Honor or Loyalty?” DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY • “What If”: “What if people going into the Witness Protection Program really disappear?” CUT OUT • High Concept: “In a post-apocalyptic world, what if the top .1% is delineated by length of life rather than wealth?” BURNERS
  8. 8. The Importance of Your Original Idea •It initiates your creative process. •Remembering it keeps you focused. •It is often the core of the pitch to sell the book.
  9. 9. What To Write? •Mark Twain: “Write what you know.” •Write what you want to know. •Write what you are passionate about. •What is your background? •Write what you read. •NO ONE OWES YOU A READING--YOU HAVE TO EARN IT.
  10. 10. Focusing Your Idea •When you write your one sentence down, check to see what the subject of the sentence is: •Character? Protagonist, antagonist? •Plot? •Check to see what the verb is. •Positive or negative? •Action or re-action verb? •Try to have inherent conflict in your idea!
  11. 11. Where The Shiver? •What excited you? •What excites the people you tell it to? •Where’s the emotion, the passion? •You are selling emotion and logic. •What does the reader relate to? •Can you communicate the shiver?
  12. 12. What If? •Start your sentence with “What if . . .” •Each word must mean something to the reader. •Don’t be a secret keeper. •“What if the Time Patrol must travel to the same date in the past in different years to prevent our timeline from being destroyed?” Time Patrol •“What if mankind didn’t originate the way we think?” AREA 51
  13. 13. Intent •The why behind the what. •What do you feel? •Why did you write this book? •What do you want readers to feel? •You always have an intent. •Positive versus negative. •Beware of lecturing. •Resolution= the payoff to the reader.
  14. 14. Study And Find Ideas • Look for the original idea in every book you read and every movie you watch. •Usually a sentence or a scene will jump out at you. • As soon as you finish a book, immediately go back and re-read the opening chapter.
  15. 15. Study And Find Ideas •Warehouse 13 •Where did the Ark of the Covenant end up at the end of Indiana Jones? •Nightstalkers: Area 51 •The Unit Meets Warehouse 13 •Episodes •Matt LeBlanc playing Matt LeBlanc •True Blood •Out of the coffin, out of the closet
  16. 16. Situational and/or Character Ideas •A situation idea is outward oriented. •A situation idea focuses on plot and problem. •A character idea is inward oriented. •A character idea focuses on character and intent. •Best case scenario: both should be strong in your book.
  17. 17. Character Ideas • A film producer must save her sister and niece, both physically and emotionally, from a stunt coordinator planning a heist. • DON’T LOOK DOWN • A food critic and a hitman must find out who is trying to kill them and stop the attempts while pulling off a mob wedding. • AGNES AND THE HITMAN • A Federal Counter-Terror expert must discover the link between the apparent rape/murder of a housewife and a secret CIA operation. • CHASING THE GHOST
  18. 18. Situation Ideas • What if the fate of the nation rested on a document Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton brokered and opposing forces are racing to find it today? • THE JEFFERSON ALLEGIANCE • What if the force that destroyed Atlantis 10,000 years ago comes back to threaten our present world? • ATLANTIS
  19. 19. How Is Your Idea Different? •It isn’t: every idea has been done. •Use IMDB to check log lines for shows and movies •The difference comes in the transfer to story. Usually through: •Unique character. (Alien) •Unique setting. (A Thousand Acres) •Unique POV. (To Kill a Mockingbird) •Unique intent. (The Iron Lady)
  20. 20. Idea Is Not Story •Every idea has been done. •Story is: •Who (characters) •What (plot) •Where & When (setting) •Why? (intent) •Idea can’t change, story can. •So, how are you going to do it differently?
  21. 21. Original Idea Conflict the Fuel of Your Story and the Conflict Box Plot I: Research and Narrative Questions Plot II: Outlining Plot III: Narrative Structure Character Point of View Write It Forward: From Writer to Bestselling Author Writers Conference Guide (Free eBook) Three P’s: Platform, Product, Promotion Writers’ Block and Rewriting How to Write the Query/Synopsis Planning for NaNoWriMo Success Bob Mayer’s Workshops, Seminars & Presentations Your Creative Process: How You Write The Present and Future of Publishing for Writers Writers Workshop and Retreat ON WRITING SLIDESHARES
  22. 22. For More Information click on covers The Complete Writer is four books at discount in one bundle.
  23. 23. New York Times bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret, and feeder of two yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He’s had over seventy books published, including the #1 bestselling series Time Patrol, Area 51, Atlantis, and the Green Berets. Born in the Bronx and having traveled the world he now lives peacefully with his wife and labs. Sort of. Free books below available HERE www.bobmayer.com
  24. 24. Writing Scenic Workshop •An intense, on-premises workshop focusing on idea, conflict, story and the ever- changing business of publishing. •At our house on Scenic Drive in Knoxville, TN •Most importantly, this workshop focuses on developing your creative process as a writer. •Led by Bob Mayer and his wife, Debbie. •We’ve worked with everyone from #1 NY Times best-selling authors to novices writing their first book. •Limited to four people per workshop. This workshop can also come to you if you have four interested writers. For schedule contact bob@bobmayer.com

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