Before I dive into this week's reader question, I wanted to say to my fellow Scribble Chick, the lovely Betsy St. Amant, I'm thinking of—and praying for—your family. Your mother-in-law was clearly one terrific woman, and I really enjoyed celebrating her life with you on your blog.
And I'd also like to send a shout-out to Petunia who e-mailed me the following questions this week:
Is it possible to have an idea that's too big for you skills? And what's the best thing to do in that situation? I have started my first novel and feel I have a good idea. I also get the feeling it could be better if I were more experienced. I get stuck with scenes and conflicts where I'm not sure where to take it next. All I can think is the situations I write aren't conveying what I want to say. There's some sort of disconnect. What do I do? Set it aside to work on something else? Plow through and polish when I feel more equipped?
Also on starting something new...I'm thinking about trying to draw from a classic, is that a good idea for a beginner? I know Erynn talks about doing that, is that common of authors? Any benefits & drawbacks? Ooooh, what about taking a secondary character in a classic and writing a contemporary story about them—just brainstorming on that one! Would love any input and thoughts on coming up with ideas.
First off, thanks so much for your questions, Petunia. No doubt about it, working out the particulars of even the best story idea can be a daunting task. In many cases, it involves loads of research to get those crucial details just right, and I'm guessing that many writers have felt just like you at some point—unqualified to write a book about that, whatever that is.
But if it's an idea you're really passionate about (and really, the test of that in my estimation is if it's the idea you just can't simply stop thinking about, no matter how hard you try), it's definitely worth continuing to pursue. If you're stuck, you might try brainstorming with a fellow writer/writing mentor that you really trust. In fact, whenever I'm working on something and a little unsure of where the story should go next, I immediately start talking it through with my husband. He's a fantastic writer with great instincts, so his insights often help me get "unstuck" and moving right back on the track.
Many times in life—or writing—the "big" and often scary task is the one that's the most rewarding. So if you know it's the idea for you, I'd keep working at it. But from the sounds of it, you've got lots of potential ideas that could be interesting, too. I think adapting classic literature in a timely way can be really fun and relevant. I sort of did a modern-day take on Emma with my second novel, Blessed Are the Meddlers, and whether it's a lead character or a supporting one from classic lit, that's a fun way to tell a story. But whatever you choose, just make sure it's something you love and can live with for a long time because that's what it takes to eventually type those lovely words "The End" at the conclusion of your manuscript.
Wishing you nothing but the best on your writing journey, Petunia,