I’m currently taking a writing and blogging sabbatical due to family health issues. For now, I’ll repost selected articles from my Fiction Writing School.
By Kristen Kieffer
Have a hundred thrilling story ideas rumbling around in your brain?
Choosing which of those many ideas to write next can seem impossible — especially when you’re of unsure which idea best aligns with your aims and abilities as a writer — but have no fear! Today, we’re going to cut through option overwhelm by discussing the tips and tricks that can provide clarity as you decide which exciting story idea to write next.
Are you considering the right kind of ideas?
There are ideas for stories, and then there are story ideas — the difference being that story ideas have workable premises, whereas ideas for stories are merely scraps of inspiration that haven’t yet found a home.
You may be excited about an idea for a new magic system or a fun meet-cute or one heck of a heart-wrenching scene, but unless you have characters and core conflicts to go along with those ideas, you likely won’t get far into your pre-writing or discovery drafting process before you hit a wall.
If you have a premise, on the other hand, you have promise.
Premises pull storytelling weight. They can be plotted and provide structural clarity as you draft, reasonably ensuring the story idea you ultimately choose to write won’t turn into a flop. To create a premise for your own story idea, simply answer the following questions:
- Who is the protagonist?
- What is their goal?
- How do they plan to achieve their goal?
- What disaster will throw the protagonist off balance?
- Who or what will oppose them?
- What is the core conflict?
Here’s an example of what a story’s premise can look like:
I don’t believe any time spent writing is ever wasted, as there’s always something to be learned from your experiences. But if you want to save yourself a little time and frustration, take care to choose story ideas that stir both passion and potential.
My top tips for choosing between story ideas…
Choosing between story ideas can feel a bit like pulling teeth, but there are a few tips and tricks that may make the process a little less harrowing. Perhaps the simplest of suggestions is this: if one story idea excites you more than all the others, choose that one!
Concerns about your ability to write or market a particular story can certainly weigh heavy, but I believe passion to be magnetic. If you pour your heart and hard work into a story you love, there won’t be able any room for regret.
If, however, you’re eager to write all of your story ideas, here are a few tips and tricks — presented in no particular order — that can help you make the best decision for you and your writing life.
TIP #1: DEFINE YOUR WHY
What is your intent for the next book you write? Do you want it to be your publishing debut or to fill a specific place in your publishing plan? Would you like it to help grow your fan-fiction following or put a smile on your children’s faces? Or, are you writing simply for yourself?
By defining the purpose you want your next book to fulfill, you should gain a clearer understanding of which story ideas can provide the most creative fulfillment.
TIP #2: IDENTIFY YOUR CURRENT CREATIVE SEASON
Our creative lives go through seasons. Sometimes, we need our writing to be a sure, stable oasis in our otherwise chaotic days. Other times, our creative energies are bouncing off the walls, urging us to write, write, write!
Identifying your current creative season can help you choose the story idea that best fits your needs. For example, you may want to save your most ambitious story idea for a time when your creative energies are running high, whereas a fun and simple story idea may be the best choice to pursue when life gets tough.
TIP #3: BE A BIT GRIM
If you knew you could only write one more story before your time was up, which story idea would you choose? Albeit a bit grim, asking yourself this question can help single out the story idea that’s most captured your heart.
For some, that idea may be the most outrageous in their repertoire or the one that finishes out their series. Others may choose to write the idea that tackles an issue weighing heavy on their hearts, or perhaps the idea that simply feels right.
Whatever the case, it’s time to write with no regrets. You never know which story may be your last.
TIP #4: MULL OVER THE PRACTICALITIES
When choosing the story idea you want to write next, you’ll want to balance passion with practicality. You’ll likely spend the next several months — or even years — working with the story you choose. Is it one you feel confident dedicating your time and attention to writing?
Alternatively, mulling over the practicalities of your story ideas may point out which are more a flash in the pan than stories you want to spend your foreseeable future creating.
TIP #5: CONSIDER WHICH IDEA IS MOST UNIQUE
Sometimes, the most exciting ideas are those that challenge old tropes or put a fresh spin on classic storylines. Do you have a story idea you believe will challenge the standards of your genre or the publishing industry as a whole? Don’t back down from the challenge!
Pursuing the most revolutionary idea in your arsenal can be a great way to liven up your writing life and help your work stand out from the crowd.
Choosing which of your many story ideas to write next certainly isn’t easy. With any luck, the tips and tricks we outlined today should help you whittle down your options by clarifying which ideas best align with your aims and abilities as a writer.
If you’re still stuck between two or three ideas, however, you may simply need to pull the trigger. Choose one from a hat. Close your eyes and point. Have a trusted friend choose for you. Remember, the only thing worse than having to choose between several exciting story ideas is never writing a word because you refuse to take action.
Make decisions that are right for you and where you are in your writing life, and I promise you’ll have no regrets, writer. It’s time to get your next creative endeavor underway!