A question I hear a lot from emerging novelists is: how do I know which story to choose?
They’ll say, “I have so many ideas, I don’t know which one to write first or which one is the best choice.” And I get it; that’s a question I ask myself often–because I have story ideas coming out my ears.
My response to this is pointing to the obvious: Larry Brooks’ 6 Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling.
But then I like to go a step further.
Because it’s not just about does this story meet that criteria? (Although that is a HUGE part of it)
It’s also about, does the idea light you up? Does it sing in your ears? Did you try running from it and it just keeps catching you?
What it comes down to is: does the story feel like a “HELL YES?”
If you didn’t write this story, would you care? Imagine yourself at 100 years old looking back on your life and then ask yourself: am I feeling complete or remorseful?
You Know If You Need to Write A Story
You can feel it, deep down inside you. It’s a part of your being. It’s a part of your soul.
When you feel THAT way about a story idea, that’s when you know it’s the one. Not the one as in the only one, but the one you need to be developing and writing right now.
That’s the right choice for your new (or next) writing project.
And once you choose the idea, that’s when you move into the story development stage (which, for me, is using my “idea seed” as the jumping off point to find my actual story).
In that stage you actually take that idea–the one you can’t get away from–and you pull it apart. You play out scenarios. You ask a shitload of questions. Find the potential plot holes. Discover who your Protagonist is, what he wants and what he’s struggling with. Create an Antagonist with an opposing goal backed by motivation. Dig into your Concept and Premise, making sure both are solid before you even think about moving to the planning stage (where you actually figure out your structure and specific scene list).
Doing all of that will turn it into an actual story, one that a reader will freaking love.
One Final Thing
One more thing to think about is: what’s your intention for the story? Meaning, do you want to publish and sell it? Or are you just writing it for you?
If getting it into the hands of a reader is your end game, you also have to factor the reader into your “what story idea do I choose?” response.
Now this doesn’t mean make what the reader wants the main factor. Not at all.
The HELL YES is the main factor.
Because you’ve gotta love the idea enough to spend 9-12 months (or more) on it. And it’s not easy to love things for that amount of time without hiccups or wanting to quit.
So definitely consider your reader (otherwise you might write a really good story that no one wants to read), but keep in mind the Hell Yes factor.
Here’s what I do… I take a look at all of the story ideas I’m considering and then I ask myself: which ones would a chick lit reader want to read? And then out of the ideas that float to the top, I ask myself: which one of them is a HELL YES for me?
That’s the one I choose as my next story.
Now I may do the development, planning and write the draft, and then decide I’m not a Hell Yes anymore. Usually that means I’ve been working on the story too long and I need a break (that’s why I take 6 weeks off from my first drafts).
I know the break is over when I feel the HELL YES coming back.
That’s also why I launched my new group the Bestselling Author Mastermind. Because when the idea came to me, it was a major HELL YES, why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-before kind of feeling.
So I knew that meant I had to launch it. I had to get it out into the world.
Because I want to be the writer and author I dream of being… and I want you to be the writer and author YOU dream of being.
That’s my end game. The writing dream life. For both of us.
No matter what it takes.
If you’re committed to having your writing dream life (whatever that looks like for you), you’ll want to get in on this mastermind. We’re gonna be kicking ass and taking names on a daily basis.
2 Replies to “Is Your Story Idea A “Hell Yes?””
And I’d add, if I’m worried about if the idea itself is “good enough,” most of what matters there (after checking the basics) isn’t the idea itself, it’s my connection to it. Ideas are things we *make* good, and the only way to do that is with weeks and months of hard “work.” So the “Hell yes!” is the only thing that can get us through that writing, and spending that time right is only thing that can make the idea worthwhile.
@Ken AMEN! Totally agree. The “Hell Yes!” is what keeps us connected and taking action on a story, even when we feel tired, unmotivated or like it’s not working.