[photo: Goofy Golf --Panama City Beach, Florida]
Everyone's got an idea. Especially if you're a writer. Friends, family, and acquaintances will all have ideas for novels you should write. As if we writers didn't already have more ideas than we have time to develop. I've even had wanna-be writers approach me with the dreaded words, "I have this great idea for a novel that I want you to write for me." No, thanks. If it's such a great idea why don't they write it?
The problem with ideas is they're a dime a dozen. Anyone can come up with 'em. But few actually make their idea a reality. Ideas are only as good as the action you take to manifest them.
Several years ago I had this idea for a book that involved a weredog and a tacky tourist trap, the kind I remember so fondly from summer vacations spent in Panama City Beach, Florida as a kid. And that was pretty much all I had. I ordered several books from Amazon on roadside tourist attractions in Florida and drove over to Panama City Beach while down in Pensacola visiting the folks. Sadly, most of the tacky tourist places had been leveled to make way for condos, convenience stores, and generic souvenir shops. But the Goofy Golf I remembered from childhood was still intact and I made several photographs lest the next time I returned the place was only a memory in my mind.
Over a period of several years, from 2009-2013, I wrote a book based on these two ideas that wound up becoming The Weredog Whisperer, the sequel to Haunted Housewives. It all started with an idea, but I had to take action to turn the idea into an actual book.
Right now I have several ideas for more books in my Cleo Tidwell series, as well as a way to turn my trunk novel into a contemporary YA paranormal. And I have an idea about a school for the supernaturally challenged that I started writing several years ago, but had to set aside when reality asserted itself and forced me to give up writing for more than a year. But I'm crunched for time these days running a couple of businesses and teaching classes, so they'll have to remain ideas for a little while longer until I can turn my attention to them.
So if you're a fledgling writer, know that ideas are grand, but you've actually got to sit down and write your idea into existence. It won't happen by talking about it. I make it a point to only discuss my ideas with a few trusted friends that I can brainstorm with and usually only when I'm ready to sit down and get to work. Talking about an idea sucks all the energy that should be going into taking that idea and creating something from it.
And for goodness sake, don't worry about anyone stealing your ideas. Your idea of what a novel involving a weredog and a tacky Florida tourist trap is going to be very different from my idea of the same. If you read enough in one sub-genre, you'll find the same ideas getting rehashed by different authors. According to (Aristotle?), there are only seven different plots, anyway. As Stephen King says, "It's not the story, but he who tells it."
So, ideas . . . write 'em down, think about 'em, and then take action on them. That's the only way they'll be worth anything.