It’s More Fun If You Take It Out And Play With It: How To Grow Ideas

Together, we will raise this idea to destroy cities.

Ideas are fragile things. They need care and attention before they can blossom into…

Wait a second. Got my notes mixed up. That’s kids. Kids are fragile blossoms. Or something. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention during those baby-sitting courses. And yet all my cousins survived. I think. I have a lot of them, so I’d need to do a head count to be sure.

Anyway.

Ideas. You have an idea. A little one. And you need to know how to grow it into a book, into a full-fledged mecha-Baphomet-Idea with fire breath and razor wings and inspiration spewing from every orifice. It will storm forth from your word-writing engine to lay waste to the shelves of lesser books and hear the lamenting of their indices.

Buuuuut it’s also kind of…new. Undeveloped. And until it grows and loses its first set of fangs, you don’t want to risk anything happening to your little baby idea.  So you don’t tell anyone about it. You don’t pick at it very much. You just wrap it up and keep it safe. You want to protect it from the viciousness of the word-world, with its reviewers and unpleasant Twitter accounts. You want to coddle it.

Too bad that won’t get you anywhere.

Ideas are not fragile. They can’t be and survive. You might feel protective of it at first, and that’s only natural. After all, it’s a part of you. But if it’s ever going to be all that it can be, then it needs to get kicked around a bit. Have those rough edges knocked off. If you keep it locked up away from anyone and everyone, it’ll turn out like one of those weird kids whose parents never them go outside and refused to let anyone inside the house unless they were coated in hand sanitizer.

So, here’s what you do with your brand spanking new baby idea: take it out into the fresh air. Let it stretch its tiny little wings. Examine your idea from all angles. Look for the flaws. What doesn’t fit? Where are there gaps, and what can bridge them? You can do this yourself or you can get others in on the game. But, much like toys, ideas are a lot more fun if you take them out of the packaging and play with them.

Before you know it, the idea will grow. First subplots, then characters, then a set of rending talons the likes of which the world has never seen themes. By questioning it and prodding it and generally working with it, you’re giving it what it needs to get big and strong. And it will. Eventually, if it gets big enough, it’ll dominate your thoughts, squatting in the middle of them like a dragon on a conveniently-located pile of gold*. You won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

And what do you do then?

You write it, of course.

*Handy for the shops and near a good school, just in case it gets hungry.

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