When You Get an Idea You Don’t Know How to Write

Never let the fear of striking out get in your way..jpg

I encountered this problem a few weeks ago where I had this awesome dream that I felt needed to be a story, novel, movie, SOMETHING. I won’t divulge what it was (yet) because I’m still sitting on it pretty hard trying to figure out what to do.

This is only an issue because the the piece would be some pretty hard fantasy, and I do not write fantasy at all. I’ve only read it briefly. I struggled with the people in my creative writing classes who wrote really high fantasy pieces because it’s not my genre. I just don’t personally get it. I have a hard time reading it because I get lost in all the world building.

But I’m not here to talk about why fantasy isn’t my favorite genre, I’m here to talk about writing in genres that are uncomfortable to us.

This piece (which I have started to very vaguely plot out) is a superhero fiction I think.

I’m flying by the seat of my pants here.

When I sat down and wrote the basic plot line of my dream, I panicked for a minute. This entire thing, as it is in my head right now, is based in a completely different world. Which means, for the first time in my writing-life, I need to legit sit down and imagine an entire new world!

Where do you even start!?

I figured Google would be a wonderful resource (it rarely ever fails me) and I did find some good tips from useful people, including George RR Martin:

Top 10 Fantasy Writing Tips From ‘Game Of Thrones’ Author George R.R. Martin

Plus of course there’s Writer’s Digest which is always a pretty good tool when you’re looking for help with things of this nature.

My other idea was to get a hold of a former classmate who actively writes sci-fi/fantasy and get some tips on doing this for the first time. Mostly asking questions about where to start in the planning stages. I’ll get to the writing part later ;).

None of this is going to come easy for me. I’m used to writing modern worlds, modern people. I don’t need to explain in great detail what the scenery looks like, what people look like, what their regular life is like because it’s all common knowledge to us.

I haven’t made any big strides on this piece yet at all. It’s really not a priority right now, like Where I Belong and planning my wedding both are. BUT I will get to it one day. I’m not going to let the fear of epic failing a piece (I probably will but I’m cautiously optimistic) keep me from even trying.

How else do we grow as writers? The ultimate way to learn new things is to challenge yourself.

So here’s my 3 tips for what to do when you get an idea for a story
but you don’t know how to write it:

  1. Internet research
    1. Other people have successfully written in that genre. See what they do that works!
  2. Talk to your writing peers
    1. If you have other writerly friends that commonly write the genre you’re concerned about, talk to them! We’re all a community here.
  3. Just write it!
    1. Seriously, reference the quote at the top. It’s good advice. Promise!


Have you written outside your genre before? How did it go?


11 thoughts on “When You Get an Idea You Don’t Know How to Write

  1. Scripting the Truth started out as a dream as well. Only in my dream, it was pornographic. And that wasn’t something I want to write. So I had to search around for a world to grow this idea in.
    Just because you dreamed it as a fantasy doesn’t mean you have to write it as one.

  2. I am a sci-fi/fantasy reader and writer, and have built a world from scratch. If you know what you want out of your world, it will be easier. However, I found a great place to start from some friends on a wiki page, which lists important elements to a world, which helped a lot–see http://whatis.suburbansenshi.com/index.php?title=Xcheamo (this is my page that has basic elements of the Lupa homeworld). Most importantly, write down your information somewhere in a sensible order. Some may change as you go, but you don’t want it lost.

  3. Fantasy is a familiar genre for me, but I’ve mostly only written short stories that didn’t require a lot of big-scale world building. For the novel I’m currently working on I’m sort of in the same boat as you are, and your tips are pretty much what I’ve been doing and that’s definitely worked so far. I would add that if you know any tolerant anthropologists you should pick their brains, because it’s often not just a new world but new societies and cultures and traditions that should be woven into the story as well and that’s right up their alley. Same if you know any tolerant botanists or anything similar – what kind of climates and plant life might there be, how might that affect architecture, types wildlife, and diet. And just working on it, generally.

    Also, I have nominated you for the 3 quotes in 3 days challenge. Should you chose to accept write a post with a quote for three days and nominate three bloggers each day. 🙂

  4. I only seem to have two genres I write by, paranormal/fantasy etc. and contemporary. They are very opposite and it’s kind of weird but those are the two genres I love writing about

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