First, I highly recommend the act of vacationing. This was my first as a young professional (after working almost a year and a half full-time) and I see why my coworkers and boss love to go!
This trip was to the Grand Canyon and then to various amazing places showcasing the incredible Arizona landscape. I got a couple new ideas for settings from an impact crater nearly a mile in diameter,
a forest of trees that are millions of years old (and have turned to stone),
and a slot canyon where the walls are like sculpted fire.
Going on vacation helped me answer some major questions about my story. I was struggling with the limits and abilities I wanted to give my main characters and the special magic they control. Too much and there’s no tension in the story, too little and it’s not the same. There were some other questions up in the air and I have, by no means, fixed all the problems, but I definitely have answers that will get me to the next step.
A separate idea—one that would fix just about everything—would be to change everything! Ha! I’ve never had THAT thought before (she said, extremely sarcastically). The thought was that, if this special powers thing is so convoluted, why wouldn’t I just take it away? The main structure of the story stands, it wouldn’t be too hard to adjust it. It was soooooo tempting, too (years of working on this and I never got the special magic down cold). Besides, I tend to prefer stories about people who don’t have special abilities but rise up above the rest, anyway.
So, should I do it?
Of course not!
That’s not the story I’m writing (not this time). I want to write a lot of things, and this book is one of those sneaky little “What if?” ideas that includes the Chosen One fantasy trope.
While this isn’t a classic superhero story, it is a Hero story, with a capital “H,” as most fantasy stories are. And, in most of these Hero stories, our protagonist discovers his special ability/trait, goes through training, and then has a huge smackdown with the bad guy, with a lot of subplots and cool stuff in between. My What if? plays around with that, a lot. Like how a pitbull plays with it’s favorite toy.
I’m sure what I’m doing has been done (let’s face it, it’s ALL been done) but the point is that I can’t take away my characters’ special powers, because then it changes the What if? that I’m asking.
So, when you want to change everything, ask yourself what is at the core of your story. What made you decide to write it in the first place? And do those changes that your relaxed, vacationing mind proposes mesh with the core vision?
Because if they don’t, save ’em for the next idea.