By now most people who know me also know that I get most of my ideas from dreams or that hazy little twilight of storytelling I do right before I drift off to sleep. Most of the time—unless the idea is so awesome I'm Jonesing to tell it—I will write a few lines or get the main idea out on paper and come back to it later. Sometimes, much later.
During the time away from the new idea, I write other books, stories, or articles. By the time I get back to the idea the market may have changed, the push for 'something different' nipping at my heels like a rabid Pekinese. So, what to do with these ideas to make them fresh and not only stand out in the current market, but to make them salable? Glad you asked. The answer is very simple- I tweak.
Yes, indeedy folks, you are associating yourselves with a self-confessed tweaker. I can't help myself. And even though I would like to stand up and say, "I write for myself. Not for the market." If I did so, lightning would strike me dead as the worst possible liar. This is what I want as my career, so to that end I do freely admit I do try to watch the market trends and adjust my novels accordingly. That's not to say I will abandon what I like to write and just write what's current or selling. I don't think I could make that big a compromise, but adding popular elements I can do. It helps of course when the market and my interests already mesh.
But back to tweaking...
My current WIP didn't start out as a humorous treasure hunt with a legendary archeological site and a gun-toting ex-boyfriend...it just happened that was what started coming out as I sat down and started writing the outline. The original concept was for a dark romantic suspense featuring a clandestine government agency and black market scuptures...oh, well, I can still do that to another story. When I pulled "Idolatry" out of the conceptual mothballs it had been hiding in since I got the idea, I had thought to turn it into an erotic romance, but somewhere down the line it became a fun romp with humor and, I hope, heart. But that's all right...the important thing in tweaking is to not take your story into a direction it doesn't want to go...and believe me, my characters protested loudly when I suggested the dark romantic romance. Not that the love scenes aren't hot...I'm told they are, but there just aren't as many of them. : )
Since pulling this story and beginning again on it, I've spent probably a total of four months writing it. (That's from outlining and research to actual rough draft). The market hasn't changed in those four months, but it did between original idea and actual writing. Hopefully the tweaking will see it to an editor who can appreciate the fun of the story, and also the more emotional scenes as well. If not...I'll tweak it again and again. After all...it ain't written in stone.
So, how far have you tweaked to get a project marketable? Do you? Or don't you? Would you, or won't you? I'd like to hear other points of view on this.