I’m still neck deep in the planning stages of my next book. Each time I think I have it plotted enough, I try to start writing, only to discover that nope–it still needs more work. Today I came across a thought that I wanted to share. It seems to me that writing books is a lot like calling football plays. (This likely just shows what’s on my mind a lot these days.) With football plays, there are a couple of approaches. On the one hand, you can come up with strikingly new plays–trick plays that no one’s seen before, and no one expects. On the other, you can stick with the tried and true plays that have been done time and time again–but still work because they’re so reliable. In the end, most teams have a balance between those two spectrums. Some trick plays, some reliable ones, yada yada yada. The thing is, the reliable plays work. Period. They worked before, and they’ll work again. They work even if the other team knows you’re going to use them. (To branch out into basketball for a moment, how many times did the Stockton/Malone Jazz use the Pick and Roll? And how many times did it still work? Tons.) The reason they work is because even though they look static in the planning step–look tired and hackneyed and what have you–when you put them into action, they come alive. They’re fluid. They change and are hard to defend against–because they’re so well done.
I think the same thing applies to writing. In the planning stage, it’s easy to look at your ideas and feel like they’ve all been done before–like why even bother. But the thing is, once you take those ideas and start your actual story, they come alive. They become unique, and they become yours.
At least they do if you do a good job of writing them.