Bouncing Baby Boxers?

Yesterday, I was thrilled and relieved to finish the draft of a novel that's been punching my lights out lately. The work is far from over, as editing begins, but I'm already conjuring some ideas for a new single title romantic suspense proposal.

Normally, at the idea stage, I try to keep my mouth shut. Not because I'm paranoid someone with steal my brilliant thought. (No one else *can* write your book, not even if you handed out free copies of your synopsis.) Mostly, I keep quiet because it's possible to get bored with the idea before it's committed to paper if you yap about it too much. Plus, I hate listening to people gas on about the brilliance of books they haven't yet written (and most likely won't). You know, the people who, on discovering you're a novelist, feel compelled to tell you they're going to write their book when they have time, only they'll be *really* successful at it. They'd be doing it right now, but they're busy (INSERT-LITANY-OF-EXCUSES).

But there is a time and place for everything, including bouncing unripe ideas around in a brainstorming session with a trusted pal -- or better yet, a trusted pal who's also a seasoned pro. Especially when you're really not certain whether the project's viable. Joni calls this "dating the idea" with an eye toward commitment. She and I have had a lot of "let me bounce this crazy idea I have off you and see what you think" sessions, and I had such a discussion yesterday with friend and fellow romantic suspense author Karen Young.

"Is this fertile ground (another Joni-ism; I'm full of 'em today) or a train wreck?" I asked her. We both agreed the idea was extremely high-concept but potentially risky, but sure enough, Karen starting tossing out her thoughts (good ones) on how to make it work, I piggy-backed off those ideas and bounced back more, and before I knew it, I'd decided to go ahead and write up this proposal, one that had so fired my imagination, I barely slept last night.

So how about the rest of you? Do you bounce your ideas off a friend, critique partner, your agent or an editor? Or do you nurture them in isolation until they're well grown enough to come out and play?

And enjoy this Boxer on a trampoline video. It's hilarious!


Suzan Harden said…
Bouncing ideas is good if you've got someone you trust to play with you. (And I'll be the first to admit I've got trust issues - LOL!)

In previous attempts to bounce ideas, I either get the someone who tries to twist the idea into something they would do or I get blank stares (as in "Are you sure you took the correct dosage of medication this morning?")

"Bouncing" definitely requires trust, and someone who really groks (love that word) what you're writing.

LOL on the medication. Been there, done that (in one memorable failed proposal with a... I tell ya later.)
jennymilch said…
Congratulations, Colleen, on finishing the last! That must feel great!

I actually never say a word til draft #1 is finito, complete, 'the end' has been scrawled. For the reason you said--the excitement of it being secret imbues the book with excitement and talking about it might leak out some of the juice.

My agent is hoping for the ms she is currently subbing to become a series so I had to write up a very short synopsis for the next book-to-be. And I wrote it, heart in my throat, telling myself, Just 100 words, it's all still ahead of me, no one knows about this cool thing, and this, and this...

I'm afraid I'm a blabbermouth. I can't contain my excitement and enjoy sharing my ideas too much as I begin working them into a book.

I try to comfort myself by saying, as you did, that only I can write my book.

The benefit of my failing is that by the time the ideas are a book (if they make it that far), I've developed a polished media-worthy sound bite synopsis.
I'm a big mouth, too, Wendy, when I'm getting fired up at the beginning. (I don't give away the endings to critique partners though. Not even under torture.) I don't understand how writers can keep it bottled up. But I admire your discipline, Jenny! My husband's the same way - never even hints at secrets, even when I beg. :)

But "bouncing" really has helped me smooth out some tangles before I get too far into the ms., so I don't mind a bit. I usually do it with other authors, though, and not as often with my agent and editor. I prefer them to think my stories spring fully formed from my noggin, like Athena from her father's cloven head. ;)
Oh, and thanks for the congrats, Jenny! I'm editing like a mad thing, but it's such a relief to have a beginning, middle, and (oh, blessed day) the end.

The End... I always hear the angel's trumpet when I say these sacred words.


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