So I have a new story idea* I’m going to start plotting:
It’s a young girl’s journey to discover the parents that abandoned her when she was a baby.
And along the way a hot gypsy boy tries to rob her, but after she beats him up, he decides to join her instead.
Turns out he belongs to a band of gypsies who guard the secrets of the last pack of shape-shifting dragons.
And one of those dragons is the girl’s mother!
Also, there is another hot shape-shifting dragon boy, who has a secret gypsy girlfriend, but finds himself inexplicably attracted to our girl.
Turns out his girlfriend is our girl’s half-sister! On the shape-shifting mother dragon’s side.
So both boys set out to help our girl with her quest, hoping to win her heart in the process. Her newly discovered half-sister comes along too to keep an eye on her man.
Along the way they are attacked by an ancient group of Viking pirates who have come back in time on their time-travelling boat.
They are held captive by the pirate captain of the boat, who looks oddly familiar. Turns out he’s come to this time period before, seventeen years earlier and is our girl’s father!
His men are planning a mutiny, so they kidnap our girl and her friends, from the place they are already kidnapped and take her to a cave.
In the cave is a dragon who is none other than our girl’s mother.
She is now the last of her kind thanks to small secret order of gypsies who betrayed her kind and have secretly been killing off the dragons and have her chained up in a magic cave.
Turns out the leader of the secret society is… the hot gypsy boy’s father! But he has fallen in love with this shape-shifting dragon and cannot bring himself to kill her or left her go.
While all of this is being discovered, the pirate Captain is closing in on finding not only his daughter, but his former mate shape-shifting dragon ex-lover. Meanwhile his shipmates are hot on his trail meaning to hunt him down.
Turns out the band of mutinous pirates is led by none other than our girl’s half-sister’s father (Mama shape-shifting dragon got AROUND the last time the time travelling Viking pirates made an appearance apparently).
Just as the band of time-traveling Viking pirates are closing in a dragon IDENTICAL to the mother dragon drops in and scares all the pirates away and saves our girl and her group.
Turns out that the last time the Viking pirates visited one stayed behind, became a scientist, and found a way to clone the last remaining dragon.
Wait… What is this story about again?!
If you haven’t guessed yet, the way I kill my WIPs is with over-plotting. I take a simple idea, something totally do-able and then I start adding subplots (often by the dozens) until my outline is so incredibly complex (and often ridiculous) that I either a) have no idea where to start or b) get so bogged down in adding complexity and inter-connections that I can’t ever get to the point where I feel ready to write.
This has killed a number of perfectly good WIP in my writing journey. The funny thing is I didn’t even notice I was doing it until I started telling Danielle about my current idea (way back when I originally had it) and she was like, “Well… it’s good… but you just told me about 8 stories in one. You’re going to need to take out some of those subplots.”
She then challenged me to tell her about my story in one sentence. To think about what it was at its core. It didn’t occur to me until I couldn’t do this easily that I had forgotten WHAT THE STORY WAS ACTUALLY ABOUT lost in the piles and piles of subplots I had created.
The subplot game is kind of like a really frustrating game of telephone, by the time I get to the end of the game the story it rarely resembles my original idea. Worse than that, sometimes the end result has taken me so far off base that I can’t even remember what my original intent was. And sometimes, I start out writing about an ordinary girl and end up getting so confused by the backstory between her time-traveling Viking pirate father and her supposedly promiscuous, shape-shifting dragon mother that I shut the computer and don’t even know what to do.
Do any of you have this problem? How do you handle reining in your imagination when it’s time to start plotting without losing the parts of your idea? Are you ever overwhelmed by your own ideas?
*This outline is an example, not an actual WIP. I know... I'm disappointed too. ;)