Too Many Choices

Kelly Parra is blogging over at Sara Hantz’s blog today about fresh starts.  She talks about the concept in general and her changing attitude about it from childhood, when she moved around a lot, to adulthood and seeing it as a positive thing.  I am, in general, a fan of fresh starts and new beginnings.  I looked forward to starting this new job.  I look forward to someday starting a family (God help me).  I look forward to trying out new authors (usually–my current funk aside).  I especially was looking forward to finishing House of Cards so that I could start fresh on a new book.

Yeah…I’m not having as much luck with that.  It’s not an issue of page fright or writer’s block.  It’s the limitlessness of possibilities.  Unlike many writers who struggle to come up with the next idea, I have far too many clamoring to make their way to the head of the line.  And yet none of them are quite what I want to be working on now.  I’ve had that opening line (yeah, that again) kicking around in my head for a week or so.  I’ve got a dead guy and a heroine–and nothing else.  So I’m letting it be for now.  No point in writing more until some of it gels a bit more.  I am waiting for something to occur to me that’s original because so far all the plots I’ve concocted around it have already been done.  Until I can come up with a way to make it a new twist on an old story, I’m not going to waste the line.  My pal Jen Hendren was laughing at me yesterday.  “I’ve never started a novel concept with just one line.”  Don’t think I have either.  Normally it’s a character or a title.

I’ve got at least a dozen other stories–kernels with heroes and heroines and for each end every one, I can hear Pot’s voice echoing in my head “What’s their conflict?”  Which is what’s preventing me from picking any of those up.  The thing is–I don’t know what their conflict is.  Boy meets girl or girl meets boy, they fall in love, live happily ever after.  It’s a feel good moment, but not a novel.

No, oddly enough, what I am craving is something grittier, more suspenseful.  More stuff in the genre I’ve just been writing in for the last several months.  And there’s nothing in the pipeline that fits that criteria (kind of odd really–nothing else I’ve come up with over the years is remotely similar).  Which begs the question of whether I totally overhaul a concept from one of my other kernels, or do I write something new?  Since last night I’ve been kicking around the idea of arson.  It’s not something you see all the time in mysteries.  I’m a total forensic psychology geek, so the whole notion of getting into the head of a serial arsonist is an intriguing one.  I think my next step is to chew on that a while, do some research and see what sort of story begins to grow on the frame of what I find out.

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