Sunday, 27 November 2011


One of the biggest things we need to do as writers is evaluate ideas. We all have ideas, whether good, bad or indifferent. Many of us have too many. The key thing is sorting them out into some kind of order, and working out which are worth giving up days, or in the case of novels months, of our time to. I don’t claim to have all the answers when it comes to this, but I think I do have a few of the right questions.

Question one- What is the idea? Often, we are distracted not by ideas, but by the ghosts of ideas. Faint flickerings of possible ideas work to grab our attention, but when we look at them head on, they aren’t really there. To find out if they actually are, try writing them down clearly and succinctly. It separates the real ideas from the general feelings.

Question two- Has it been done? Yes, obviously all ideas have been done, but some have been done more than others. What you need to ask yourself is whether you are exploring vampires, angels, or whatever solely because there have been a lot of books about it recently, or because you genuinely feel you can contribute something.

Question three- Can you see where it might go? Good ideas will help you to generate other ideas. They will serve as starting points, not things complete unto themselves. If half an hour after having your idea you still have one line rather than a whole page of brainstorming, you obviously aren’t that inspired by it. Which brings us to…

Quest four- Are you excited? You only have so much time, which means that you can only write so many things. Committing time to one thing means not committing it to others, so you have to be sure that the ones you decide to work on are the ones that really excite you. Trust me, that excitement will come through in your writing.

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