If you can’t tell, I’m still on a bit of a kick about what I’ll write next. I’m still sure I’ll work on revising my current project, but I have undoubtedly relapsed into my old ways of idea-development-doubt-collapse. I’m not happy about that. I had hoped my sudden triumph signaled a change, but it didn’t. But it did show me I can do this, so I’m not giving up.
Coming up with random ideas isn’t that much of a challenge for me—but coming up with the right ideas of things that I will actually write is nearly impossible. So I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I like to write.
You’d think I could just look at what I already wrote, but all that tells me is that I liked writing that one thing. And I don’t know how to write something similar without writing the exact same thing.
So… I’m still trying to figure out what I want to write. And every time I read a book, I can’t help but analyze it not just as a reader or even as a writer, but for what it tells me about ideas.
I look at what I liked about the book—which parts or characters were my favorites, and which fell flat. What parts were I looking forward to as I read (for example, the answer to who was the murderer? Waiting for the main couple to get together? In other words, what was I reading to find out?)? What parts bored me, disappointed me? What would I have done differently? What was I expecting when I picked up the book? What did I want to read?
Answering these questions won’t give you a story—but it might give you a sense of what you like about stories. Do you like the romance subplots? The murder mysteries? The bits of comedy? The sad literary exploration of humanity? The realism?
At the very least, you can come away with some broad patterns to look into—common settings, or character types, or plot structures that might be what you like best. Whether or not you actually want to write those depends on a lot of factors, but I think it’s a good place to start.