Writers Helping Writers: Cultivating Your Book Idea

There are you are, minding your own business, walking down the street when BAM! It comes out of nowhere. The best idea for a novel EVER! You have to get it written down somehow, there’s no way this idea would be bad! The world NEEDS this story!

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had that genius story idea that would be perfect. But how do you get from incredible lightning strike from your muse to published work? Well, this blog series is aimed at the tough in-between times of idea and publication. We will start where every novel starts and that is the idea.

Ideas, especially story ideas, as a general rule are not fully formed. Often times they come only in bits and parts and it is up to us to string those bits together to generate a decent full-blown novel idea. When you have that spark of an idea, write it down and don’t just stop there. Ask questions of it. What if scenarios. Who are the players? Keep a record of what you discover.

Sometimes not all the answers are apparent, either. This is where novel ideas require some patience. It takes time for an idea to evolve. It takes careful cultivation in an information dense pocket of your mind. The way to create such fertile ground that is to learn new things constantly. Always expand your horizon. You never know if what you are reading about is really an aspect of your story in disguise.

Keep adding to your idea over time. Don’t let it just sit in the corner, keep playing with it in your thoughts. It’ll tell you when it is done growing. Talk about it with people you trust. Sometimes someone else can give you a new perspective or ask the right question that will spark a growth spurt of this idea.

Don’t fret too much if your idea isn’t wholly original. With 7 billion people in the world, it’s almost a guarantee that there are no ideas that have not stemmed from somewhere. That doesn’t mean stealing someone else’s work and calling it your own though. It means to start with a common theme and then look for ways to make your version unique.

Save all of the things that don’t quite fit too. I keep a file of “story bits” on hand for all of the ideas and tangents that I manage to capture as I am daydreaming and thinking.  When I am working on a new idea, I will go through that file to see if anything fits. You never know what you will need for the next idea you have.

Happy Writing!