However, the idea occurred to me while I was knee-deep in agent revisions for my novel, so I didn't have time to even jot down a rough outline. Instead, as I revised, I began to sock away every cool idea I could into this nascent plot. Star-crossed romances. Twins torn apart. Encroaching daylight. Panic. I told several friends about this book. They seemed excited, and I couldn't blame them. UNTITLED DYSTOPIAN UNICORN NOVEL was exciting stuff.
Weeks passed. I sent my revisions off to my agent, took a week off to get some reading done, sat down to write--and wrote something else.
This has happened to me several times now. Shiny new ideas will come calling while I'm engaged with the blood, sweat, and tears of the revision process. These half-formed books are often much cooler than the novels I end up writing. In fact, they're fairly bloated with cool ideas. What they tend to lack are appreciable plots, or recognizable characters. They're like empty shelves on which I place everything interesting thing I read about on wikipedia, or see on TV. Like Kowloon Walled City. Or Paro Therapeutic Robot Seals.
I've become resigned to never writing most of these books. These days, I consider them more placeholders for real projects than projects in and of themselves. When we're deep into a draft, or revising, it's normal that ideas occur to us. After all, the world is a fascinating place, full of awesome raw material that any self-respecting writing would love to stick in a book. But cool ideas aren't really the stuff of novels. They're more like the spice that makes a strong book even tastier. And a really strong book can only hold so much awesome and still have room for a plot, anyway.
Of course, perhaps some day I'll return to these ideas--remix them, reuse them, marry them to an interesting protagonist and see what kind of trouble they make together. Maybe one day UNTITLED DYSTOPIAN UNICORN NOVEL will even see the light of day. But for now, I'm fine with letting them sit on the back shelf of my mind. How about you? Do you have a pile of placeholder novels you would love to write, but haven't?