What to do with an unused idea?

Those who write novels will be familiar with this part of the pre- and early writing process. Even pantsers keep copious notes. Sometimes entire project gets sidelined, either for a different project, or due to life in general.

In my case, I hoard just about everything I write. I don’t always back it up, and this dubious treasure trove is scattered across various methods of storage and almost as many devices. But it’s all still there. Just in case I want to go back to it.

This time, I had two possible fantasy worlds. It was difficult to separate everything. Some of my ideas were intrinsically linked to one world idea or the other. Some elements would work in either world with minimal to no reworking. But the most important thing was that each of these settings is tonally distinct. In some ways, total opposites.

I got hung up on it, unable to choose. I liked both settings. There was no way to merge them, not without too much sidetracking. Worse, I couldn’t continue making notes while sitting at this crossroads, so I started to stick on more and more elements of the story. The size of the cast grew or shrank according to the setting I leaned further towards. Certain characters’ introductions changed or were moved.

How did I solve this? In the most childish way possible. I asked someone else to pick one. Like flipping a coin. This person was removed from my mire of procrastinating non decisions. Either would work, and I just needed a push forward.

But I have kept everything that belongs to the other setting. Maybe I’ll have a use for it someday.

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