Write for hire isn’t your typical “come up with an idea and dig in” writing process. Someone else comes up with the general concept (or even a comprehensive outline) and you bring it to life. Your job as the writer is to flesh out an idea that isn’t 100% yours. If you’ve never done this before, it can feel daunting. It can be challenging falling in love with an idea you didn’t come up with. But write for hire is rewarding work and can push you out of your comfort zone, letting you experiment with concepts you otherwise might not have tried.
Cake Literary provided me with a developed pitch and lengthy outline for The Trouble With Shooting Stars. We also had a good discussion at the beginning of our journey to establish the tone of the story. Cake was there every step of the way to answer questions and help me brainstorm, but at a certain point, I had to swaddle this idea-baby and raise it the way I thought best. Which…was extremely scary.
How do you make sure you’re getting things right and making everyone happy with your execution of the idea? How do you take this idea and make it yours?
The easiest way to do both is to find your way into the story and fall in love with the idea. Trust me, there’s room for you. You’re the writer. You were chosen for a reason.
I found my way into The Trouble With Shooting Stars through Luna’s curiosity. As an artist, Luna is endlessly fascinated by the world around her. Sometimes her curiosity is construed as nosiness (of which I’m also guilty). She looks for magic in the ordinary and finds it when spying on her suspicious next door neighbors. Her curiosity was present in the concept, but it was how I found my way into Luna’s life.
Next, I looked at her family. Luna and I are both Italian-Americans, so it was easy for me to find places to infuse my childhood into the concept Cake developed. I started with the details: mom’s dyed blonde hair, dad’s cornicello, the feast of the seven fishes. Then, it was teasing those details into dynamic characters that blended with Cake’s outline.
Those details are crucial in write for hire projects. It’s what brings the idea to life. Obviously it can (and will be at times) more complicated than all of that, but there’s no reason an idea that doesn’t start out as yours can’t become part of you through and through. The Trouble With Shooting Stars is my life and my childhood as much as it’s a concept developed by Cake Literary.
That’s what I love most about this project — it stretched me to think outside of my doom and gloom into something I may have never written on my own. Write for hire is a tremendous experience and a great way to learn more about the industry. Don’t worry about taking on an idea that isn’t yours. Find your way in and bring it to life.
Meg Cannistra grew up in Sarasota, Florida, where she spent her childhood chasing after older sisters and cousins and learning how to cook. After living in New York City and North Jersey for a few years, Meg now resides with her two cats, Gloom and Doom, in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has a BA in English Literature from Flagler College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University. When she’s not taking pictures of her cats or wandering around grocery stores, she writes magical, mysterious, and sometimes scary stories. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @MegCannistra, and learn more about her books at www.megcannistra.com.