Skip to content

Saying Your Ideas Out Loud

May 5, 2011

If you want to be a writer, this is something you are going to have to do at some point. You are going to meet an agent or editor and be asked to explain your novel in a few sentences. You’re going to meet someone at a party and they’ll ask what exactly it is that you write about.

Being able to explain your ideas and stories out loud is a good skill to have. I am terrible at it. I like to tell people that the reason I write is that it is non-verbal. I don’t have to ever say anything. And I can do things like this: *muppetarms*

However, I am going to be attending WorldCon and World Fantasy this fall and will almost certainly meet someone who will ask me what I write. I am terrified. I loath speaking to people because there is no backspace. There is no delete button. Whatever garbage comes out of your mouth is out there to stay. And by your mouth, I mean my mouth.

The other important reason to learn to say your ideas out loud is during the writing process itself. I know I have millions of brilliant ideas in my head that when I try to explain them out loud I get a lot of strange looks. And sometimes it is a delivery problem. But sometimes the idea itself is a problem.

Recently, I’d been toying with an idea in my head about whether something was “real” or not in my current novel-in-progress involving ghosts. I had so many ideas of how to approach this problem. I’d been leaning towards a certain idea but hadn’t actually written it down or told anyone about it.

My writing group read my most recent installment and were confused. I decided this was a good time to explain my idea out loud to my writing group. I got the Are-You-Crazy-In-A-Polite-Way look. Ouch. That hurt. I won’t say it didn’t. I really liked the idea. But by saying it out loud, even I realized it wasn’t right for the story and in fact would undermine the power of the story. (Note: I didn’t realize this until weeks later.)

So in the end, I decided to drop my dumb idea. I still like it and would like to use it elsewhere, perhaps in a short story or as world building in a fantasy world I’m working on.

So my advice is, if you haven’t written the idea down or told it to anyone, try it out. See what kind of reaction it gets.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 6, 2011 8:52 am

    Another iteration of the saying your ideas out loud: when revising, read out loud. That’ll tell you when you sound stilted or awkward . . . which I almost always do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: