1. Write down whatever idea you have in whatever detail is fresh and immediate in your head. Put it in a separate file from other things. Close the file. Walk away.
2. Whenever another detail occurs to you, open the file, write down that detail, close the file, and walk away.
You are not noodling around with the idea -- remember, this is how to refrain from writing a book. You are not going to see how much you can get down. You are not seeking after the next scene. No. You are not writing this book. You put down the bit that's bothering you, close the file, and walk away.
Of course, eventually you may find that you've done this for several thousand words of actual prose, plus more story notes on top of that, and that maybe it's time to give up not writing this book. But you will be prepared if that day does come, and you will not have run mad with the bits of things bobbing around your head demanding attention you don't intend to give them.
I, for example, have just written the first 200 words of The Vine Princess. Not only am I not writing The Vine Princess, I am not writing the book that comes before it! I am champion at this not-writing of books. Two hundred words. The file is now closed, and I can stop thinking about Lisved's feelings about boats, because they are moderately safe, they will be there in case I want them later, and I am not writing this book.
(But I am happy with this book I'm not writing, because it starts with Lisved, which it should do as she is the title personage, and it starts with boats, which is never, ever a bad sign. Well, okay, maybe occasionally. But -- Swallows and Amazons, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, all the Aubrey and Maturin books! Messing around in boats is our friend.)
(And the dangerous thing is that now I have to write down the beginning of the book before The Vine Princess, which is not about Lisved and boats at all but about Soldrun's grandmother and the Skraelings. But I am not writing these books, and at least this bit is shorter, and you can tell because I am not going into the notes file for the rest of the series and sorting out which bits from it definitely go into each book and organizing them into as rough an order as I can manage and all. Because it is not time for these books.)
Anyway. Books read, late May:
Thomas Asbridge, The First Crusade. This is a fairly straightforward account of the First Crusade from the Frankish point of view, battles and marches and leadership. Interesting but not inspiring for me in any particulars.
Libba Bray, Rebel Angels. This book is extremely overwrought at times, which is good: it's a fantasy novel about Victorian teenage girls. If it was never overwrought, it would be wrong. I was able to just plunge into this book and not bother with whether or not I could see the strings. It was quite effective for me. fiddle_dragon, I think K. would enjoy being totally freaked out by these. They're that kind of delicious Gothicness. So far there's not actual sex, but the laudanum addiction might bother her; she can borrow them if she wants them, or you can if you'd like to see for yourself.
Robin Briggs, Witches and Neighbors: the Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft. The subtitle is very important here: Briggs is looking at how accusations of witchcraft interacted with social relations in village cultures. This book felt to me like it had been written to Set Those Idiots Straight, and that tone did not really improve it.
Jay Caselberg, Metal Sky. I think this was better than Wyrmhole, but the characters didn't quite work for me except for one who worked very well indeed. Alien archaeology psychic forensics.
Gwyneth Jones, North Wind. Another attempt for me to go on with my life now that the Bold As Love series is over. Closer to that kind of satisfying than Divine Endurance was, and I was eventually able to enjoy this book on its own terms rather than sighing sadly about Jones's other series. Gendery, but in a good way as far as I'm concerned, not a navel-gazing way.
Patrick O'Brian, The Unknown Shore. I wouldn't recommend this to someone who hasn't read much Patrick O'Brian. I would estimate at least ten or twelve of the Aubrey and Maturin novels would do. It was written much earlier and the characters are much younger, so it read a bit like Aubrey/Maturin YA. I found it charming but not nearly hitting his stride yet.
John Scalzi (scalzi), The Last Colony Fun stuff. Aliens, diplomacy, romp romp romp. If this is the kind of thing you like -- and the first two books in the series are a pretty good approximation of whether you do -- then you'll like this thing. I like this thing.
And now I will go work on the book I am writing.