When in Doubt - Exaggerate

When a book idea strikes, I usually make note of it in my book ideas document. I jot down the key points in order to remember what the heck I was thinking was so great about the idea when I return to it later.

And I do return to it. When I’m ready to start a new book, if there isn’t a story nagging at me, or if I’m not about to start the next in a series, then I open my book ideas document and skim the ideas to see which one stimulates my creativity. After I’ve chosen, I go about fashioning it into what I hope is a book length idea. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for a great idea to only support a novella or short story length idea. That’s always very sad.

How do I fashion a novel length idea out of a couple simple thoughts? Exaggeration. I take the average idea and see where exaggeration will add interest. In my newest book, I Am Me, I felt that putting people together from two completely different social standings added to the interest. Lola’s family is wealthy and she lives a privileged life. Rodney is from a broken family, with a drug addict for a mother. They are dirt poor, move a lot. It’s all Rod can do to keep himself and his little brother safe and together.

Exploring how those two worlds came together and what the two teenagers learned from each other was what eventually developed into a novel length story. Lola has everything, but still wants more. Rod has nothing and expects nothing more. Their friendship literally redefines their definitions of the words everything and nothing.

If you have a story idea that you are having a tough time developing into a novel length story arc, add some exaggeration.

Despite—or perhaps because of—her fancy car, private school education, and life of privilege, Lola Renaldi has become a volunteer junkie. Feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the elderly—if it’s a good cause, she’s done it.

Lola’s favorite stint, building affordable houses, puts her directly in the path of Rodney. He refuses to discuss why he’s doing community service, but it’s clear he’s hiding something dark about his past. As their friendship grows, Lola begins to question the true reasons for her obsessive volunteerism and her view of those she has pledged to help.

She is only beginning to understand how lucky she truly is when her life falls apart. After losing friends, her boyfriend, even Rodney, Lola finally recognizes which parts of her life she wants to hang on to and what specifically she wants to go after. But with all she’s been through, will she be able to hang onto who she wants to be? Or will she lose all that defines her?


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