This little gem might actually be one of my favourite things about writing fantasy. It’s certainly right up there, at any rate. I’ve not written much aside from fantasy, but the principle would probably apply elsewhere, as well. The point though, is being able to turn mistakes, mis-thoughts and missteps into wonderful little details that embellish my world a little bit more.
It doesn’t matter if things go right or wrong. With even just a little bit of manipulation, you can turn next to anything useless or extraneous into something beneficial to your story, your world, your people, or even just the colour of the doormat outside that baker’s shop somewhere on the city’s main boulevard.
I really don’t like throwing ideas away, even the bad ones, if I’m honest.
I used to work at the local cinema where I would spend hours on box-office shifts just writing little notes and excerpts on the back of paperwork. A lot of those notes gave me the foundation for my story and the rest are kept in a folder back home, waiting for the day I go through them again. They are awful, for the most part, but it’s about dissecting and re-evaluating their purpose.
Every writer encourages keeping notes or keeping your ideas and thoughts in a handy little notebook. I’d just like to emphasise that when you do, absolutely do NOT censor yourself. Put everything down, from good to bad to just plain idiotically, ridiculously, obscenely cringe-worthy stuff. This doesn’t mean you have to use everything you keep in your story, just that I think even the smallest detail can be used to embellish the depth of your world.
I remember once reading a note I’d found in the back of an exercise book from a year 10 maths class. It read something like this: ‘has a letter opener on his desk. Maybe murder weapon?’ That letter opener now sits on the desk in Mister Fortune’s office. The note was about a young adult story I had once intended to write. I was maybe 16 when I wrote that down. Nine years later, I found it again and intend to use it in my next book.