Recently, I found out that a friend of mine, through another mutual friend of ours, has an agent to help her get published. Yay! Congrats to my friend (you know who you are) on having secured that. You can be quite the envy of all my writing friends seeking representation in this tough world we call publishing! (Seriously, I’m crazily proud of her for this. I personally am not seeking representation or a publishing house at this particular point in time, but that is subject to change, based on personal goals.)
When our mutual friend told me this and suggested that I speak with her about what she learned, I didn’t immediately leap to send that message. I do hem and haw a little bit, based on what others have told me about their personal experiences and what I’ve learned on my own as well. That and I figured our mutual friend could tell me as obviously this friend told her and why hold back on some of that information? The mutual friend did comply with what she knew, and, in between texts, I did comply with the suggestion. A phone call later in the evening, and I have today’s blog post
One thing my friend suggested is the whole round robin/gathering ideas aspect of storytelling. It’s something I have actually actively avoided for the longest time. It’s not so much of a “it’s my pie, and I don’t want people putting their grubby fingers into it” attitude as it is “I will run with this and you may not like where it takes me” attitude along with a “you like this idea so create it yourself” attitude. The last bit sounds harsh, but I’ve always approached this with a more encouraging aspect. If someone approaches me with an idea, I want to see them create what’s in their heads when it comes to fiction writing. i want them to unlimit and express themselves in their particular vision. That’s how I am, that’s how I’ve operated, and I will probably continue to do so.
There is also another reason why I do hesitate on taking ideas from others. Several years ago, I had someone from another country approach me with ideas for one of my Star Ocean fanfiction pieces. While I really didn’t want any ideas for this story (I had not posted anything of the sort anywhere in the author’s notes that I was actively seeking ideas), I decided to listen to be nice and to see if I couldn’t encourage this individual to start writing for himself. As a writer, that is one of my goals in this life. I want people who come across whatever I’ve written to start writing their own stories.
I believe I’ve written about it before in this blog, but I’ll go over this again. This encounter eventually turned ugly. The person became insistent that I use his ideas and that I execute his ideas in the way that he envisioned instead of allowing me free reign on what he was offering me. I’d even made it clear that, if I did use those ideas he presented, those ideas would go with my interpretation and not his, which really pissed him off. It got to the point where he was telling me that he’d done a working to bend me to his will and threatening to travel from England to where I lived in the U.S. in order to kill me all the while bragging he could get away with it because he was nobility.
Mind you, I didn’t take the death threat seriously. I laughed in his face about it because I knew where I lived and I knew that if he tried, he wouldn’t be able to get away with killing me like he claimed. I still reported him to the federal authorities because a death threat is still a death threat. (And, if he had tried to come to where I lived, he’d have found himself facing a number of guns in his face because, while the county sheriff’s office never patrolled the area, it was, in fact, countryside with a lot of farmers and a lot of people knowing they had to defend themselves and their homes from unusual activity because the county sheriff’s office never patrolled the area.)
After that, readers have still offered up ideas in reviews. A lot of times, I have hesitated. Sometimes, because, as I’ve said, I want to see them write their own stories. I’ve left a story open-ended just so people could write their own endings with their own ideas and inspiration. A couple of times, I’ve rejected ideas simply because they were too cliched, too overused, and heading in a direction that would have been detrimental to the story I was crafting at the time.
Now, this isn’t to say I have never taken up someone else’s ideas. I have. I adopted a Star Ocean idea from someone because I liked the premise. I’ve read Inuyasha stories where the ideas were poorly executed and thought to myself, I can do better than that. And in every case, there has been one thing consistent in all of it.
I’ve had free reign to listen to the ideas, and I’ve gone where the ideas have personally inspired me. That is extremely important when it comes to storytelling and an author asking for ideas from the readers.
I bring this up because of this conversation with my friend and because I really do want to build my platform. I do want to build a following, and I do love hearing from people on what it is I’ve created and how it excites them as much as it excites me. I’m not opposed to receiving ideas if I ask for them. Unsolicited is the trickier aspect for me. I’m currently working on my Arc of Fantasy series along with a few fanfiction projects, and I’m attempting to revive an old project from back in the day. And here’s why.
Ideas can be quite tricky when it comes to an author receiving, rejecting, and/or accepting and developing them. The IDEA itself must grab me. It must grab me by the shoulders, shake me around, and say, “I want you to write me out”. There is nothing worse than taking an idea you’re not excited about, not happy about, and executing it to appease someone else. If that idea isn’t going to grab me, intrigue me, and tempt me into writing it, I sure as hell don’t expect it to captivate my audience nearly as much as it would have if I’d been excited about it in the first place.
I will speak only for myself on this. If/when I start to ask for ideas on something, if you suggest and I reject, please refrain from taking it personally. Chances are, the idea didn’t excite me as much as it excited you. And, if I encourage you to write it yourself, I do so because I believe you have the ability to make your idea come to life, maybe even better than what you believe I could do for you.
After all, you will never know if you refuse to try.
Now that I’ve said all of that, when will I be taking ideas? We shall see, my lovelies. We shall see!
Until the next time!