When to run with random ideas…

Not that I'd do this to a book... source: http://flic.kr/p/de5dUt

Not that I’d do this to a book…
source: http://flic.kr/p/de5dUt

I was percolating ideas for my two novels around in my head while driving this weekend and happily, I had some great ideas. I created some new characters/beings for my world that I’d previously had no freaking idea even existed, but now that I’ve come up with them, I can’t imagine the world without them. So, while I was puzzling my way through these new ideas, I happened to be king hit with a rather dark and sinister idea for a crime/thriller murder mystery story. I haven’t read a lot of crime/thriller in my reading history, but I’ve read a few of varying degree of gruesome. To date I’ve not read anything like this. I don’t even want to know why I thought this up, it’s rather dark and evil.


When do you chase this idea down? Do I write it up somewhere and leave it for later or do I grasp it now with both hands and trudge, no matter how begrudgingly, into the deep sinister depths of this murder mystery idea?

At the minute, it’s only barely an idea. I don’t have characters defined or plot, or any of the mechanics really, but the idea was so frighteningly vivid I can barely get it out of my head. The idea, in all its gruesome clarity, is still only part of the process of writing. Especially in this realm, I’d need to do an absolute bucket load of research. I, for one, don’t know the first thing about murdering people and how to get away with it.

I also don’t know anything about the mechanics of what I want this character to do.

Can I stomach it?

Would readers be able to stomach it?

I am pretty sure there’s a rather large market out there for a good thriller with a bit of gruesome murder in there, and while I don’t mind reading them, how does one go about writing one?

Are any of my readers out there crime/thriller/murder mystery writers? Can you offer suggestions? 

I am a bit of a serial starter. I have troubles finishing any writing project I start… I’m sure you guys have probably picked that up by now.

So, my question to you all is this:

When do you grasp onto that new idea and follow it down and when do you place it on a shelf for later? 

If you shelf your ideas, do you ever go back to them? If you do, do you struggle with momentum?

If you drop your current projects and pursue the new one, do you ever go back to the original ones? Or are you like me and start a lot of things but never seem to finish?

10 thoughts on “When to run with random ideas…

  1. I would definitely follow it until you fall down in a heap. Notes, ways to research, ideas. Get them all down while they are fresh. If you do get stuck you can always get back to it later. Whereas if you don’t grab the ideas now and get them down they will be gone (as they are now in your head) forever.

    • Sounds like you have been through this before Debbie. I decided to write it down and when I am stuck on my other things I look at it because it is do different.

  2. I do them all at once and then if an idea comes to me I do that one as well. It’s the only way I can work and it seems to work for me 😀 Best of luck with the idea!

  3. My current experiment is to not start any works this year that I do not finish, so I am putting most of my ideas down in note form and picking one up later when I finish the current project. So far I have one short story unfinished from this year that I started just over a week ago, so I am feeling quite disciplined.

    Ray Bradbury posited a theory that the stories you cannot finish are stories you were not meant to write at that time: he suggested embracing the desire to move on to another story as soon as you feel pulled away from your current work. However, I wonder if you have to build up discipline to push past a bad writing session or a chance idea before you get into the habit of moving on as soon as you have a better idea.

    • Interesting thoughts there Dave. I am glad you’ve managed to focus and remain disciplined enough to stick with your story.

      I will let you guys know how I go 😀

  4. Good questions! I’d write the idea down, as much detail as you want to sketch out, then finish what you’re working on and come back to it. It’ll give your subconcious time to process the idea and when you come back to it, you’ll either still love it or hate it. Don’t be terrified of research, but don’t get buried in it.

    Good luck either way!

    • Thanks Tony! I do worry that I will never get back to it if I shelve it though, if I never finish what I am currently working on… It’s a bit of a viscous cycle.

      I have jotted down parts of the overall idea, I might revisit to add more detail shortly and then decide…

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