Too Many Ideas?

(New Zealand)

Question I'm thinking of writing story about a homeless girl approximately 15 or 16 years old who has been living on her own for most of her life. She is making a living by stealing things (mostly pick-pocketing). She is captured by another small ring of thieves (an older man and two other teenagers) when she tries to pickpocket one of them and it goes wrong. Eventually, she accepts this new group as family and is living happily with them. Her new world is broken apart when a gang takes the group hostage and kills the old man. The police intervene before the teens can be killed as well, and take them away. After the police discover they have no home or family the three teens are taken to a orphanage designed specifically to re-integrate homeless kids like them back into society. The three (who now treat each other like siblings) face many challenges as they learn to fit back into society again, such as school, making new friends and catching up on their many years of missed education.

My question is, is that too much to have in one story? Should i just stick to her finding her new family and living with them? Or should I start out with her already living with the other thieves and just focus on the challenges she faces fitting back into society?

Answer: Sounds like an interesting modern variation on Oliver Twist. (That's not a criticism, incidentally.)

From your description, it does sound like two stories. The
first story, how she journeys from homelessness to living in the orphanage and having friends could be a novel in itself. The second part, how she and her two friends re-integrate into school and society could be its own novel.

Whether you want to make it one or two books is up to you. Either way, try to think in terms of creating a four-part dramatic arc.

For instance, you already have an arc for the first part of this story...

Part 1: Homelessness.

Part 2: Joining the group.

Part 3: The gang attempts to take over the group.

Part 4: The police intervene and and the teens are placed in the orphanage.

The goal of this story seems to be to take your main character to a place where she has a future.

If you want to do two books, you will need a similar arc for the second book, and you will need to decide what the goal is - what her big challenge in the school environment is.

If you want to make it one book, you would have the same problem of deciding on the story goal for the entire plot, and you might need to condense the first part. The arc might be something like...

Part 1: Her life of crime.
Part 2: Police intervention puts her into the orphanage and a new school.
Part 3: The challenges she faces at school lead to a crisis.
Part 4: How she solves the crisis and becomes someone with a clear future.

Best of luck.

Comments for Too Many Ideas?

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Jan 24, 2014
On the Other Hand <3
by: Arianna

I actually disagree. I think this story would work well as one novel, it would just have to be larger. I think having so many plot twists and interesting events not only captivates the reader but serves them a dynamic, enticing plot which is constantly moving. I think this would be great as one story and I would certainly read it.

Jan 24, 2014
Thank you!
by: Nicola

Thanks for all the help, know exactly what I'm going to do with the story now.

Great site by the way! Response time was exceptional, I was expecting to have to wait more than just a few hours! Will definity recommend this to my friends.

Jan 24, 2014
by: Brent King

On the other hand, looking at it from the viewpoint of a selling writer, a trilogy or series is much more lucrative than a one-off book.

Jonathan Gunson talks about this in his 10 Simple Strategies for Bestseller Success. He recommends in strategy #2 to "build a unique book series brand. People rally around unique books because they are brands that they love and become evangelists for.

A brand is an entity with a set of implied values that people come to trust through experience. It can be relied on to constantly reproduce that experience, a navigation point used by people to make their way through the world. The need to put brand labels on everything may be a human failing, but no-one can deny its power.

Three primary examples of loved consumer brands are McDonalds, Coca Cola, and Disney. All of these provide a reliable, consistent experience. Users enjoy the experience greatly, and come back for more. The same applies to your books which should provide a high quality, strongly identifiable, unique and consistent experience.

This is what author Lemony Snickett provides for readers with his ‘Unfortunate Series of Events’ books featuring the tribulations of the Baudelaire children. The consistent quality of writing and characters become increasingly familiar. As a result, ‘Lemony-holic’ readers became hooked on the stories by the million."

I totally agree with Jonathan. This is a simple thing to do, yet the benefits to the author and reader are great. A trilogy or series if fun to write too!

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