Too Many Ideas

Monday, December 15, 2014

Writers can be classified in a number of ways. One is to separate those with not enough ideas from those with too many. I fall in the later camp, and it isn’t always a good thing.

Now that my current work is in the final stages, I’m looking for my next book. I have six ideas for novels: three for contemporary women’s fiction and three for middle grade historicals. I’ve also got other ideas percolating farther back in the cue. So how do I choose?
First, there is the genre: should I go for contemporary women’s fiction or a middle grade historical novel? Writing for the middle grades is harder than writing for adults, but I also enjoy it more. So that’s the way I’m leaning right now.
But selecting the genre is only the beginning. As I said, I have three ideas for middle grade historicals, and they are represented in the pictures above. The top picture shows the students at Carlisle Indian Industrial School around 1990. Although I probably would set the book at a fictitious boarding school, it would tell the story of the Native American students who were taken from their homes to be “Americanized,” or, as Captain Richard Henry Pratt put it, to “kill the Indian and save the man.”
The picture at the bottom left shows the first class dining saloon aboard the RMS Lusitania before the ship was sunk by the Germans in World War I. The story would be about a girl on a sinking ocean liner. It might be the Lusitania, or it might be the Andrea Doria. Not the Titanic, though. That’s been done more than enough times.
The final picture shows the corner of Dearborn and Monroe streets after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The story would show the protagonist’s life before, during, and after the fire, with the bulk of it centering on her escape from the flames.
All three of these historical events have potential because there is sufficient information on them to create a realistic story. And that’s important to me. Research is my middle name and accuracy is my claim to fame.
Too many ideas can cause complications. But I’d rather have that problem than the opposite one.

The pictures at the head of this post are in the public domain because of their age.

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