Developing Your Story Idea

By on July 22, 2020

When you first come up with a new story idea for your book, it can feel exhilarating, your mind might be rushing and full of possibilities, and you'll be itching to get started.

However, before you rush into writing your novel, it's a good idea to develop your story idea to ensure that it is workable, makes sense, and has legs.

You might find that your initial idea soon dries up, you might find that it takes you in a completely different direction to what you had expected.

Without developing your story idea first, you might end up halfway through your novel and then running out of steam, or realizing that actually, it has nowhere left to go. Needless to say, this can feel like a massive waste of time.

Suzanne Collins says the Hunger Games' inspiration came to her while channel surfing between reality TV and war coverage. This gave her the idea to combine the two, and her protagonist Katniss Everdeen was born.

Lightning struck for J.K.Rowling while on a train between Manchester and London King's Cross in 1990, and she came up with the idea for Harry Potter.

So how can you unearth a great story idea?

Recognize it

First, you need to recognize them. Lots of stories start with just one little gem or a spar, with a memory or a picture that flashes into your mind. It might be a problem or fear, or a memory of being gloriously happy and carefree. You need to search inside for the most powerful feelings that you have, as well as the memories that make you react strongly - use these to fuel ideas and inspiration for your next book.

You know and idea if worth exploring further when it comes to you again and again. If it keeps appearing and starts to grow, you need to pay attention and spend some time exploring it. Lots of ideas fade and lose steam, but the ones that won't stop bugging you, are the ones you need to examine in more detail.

Writing your ideas down is the most natural and most obvious place to start. Once you have your initial idea, you need to write it down without judgment. Start by free writing and just putting down anything that comes to you. It doesn't matter about spelling, it doesn't matter if it's nonsense - let it pour out of you, and you can start to make sense later.

Get categorising

Once you have done this, you can separate your notes into groups related to characters, the plot, settings, and dialogue. Search for common themes and build upon these. You can then start to shape your characters, think about who they are, what they want, and what might get in the way of that. You can develop a timeline, and start to create a world that you will draw your readers into.

Plan your outline

From here, you can start to plot your story outline. A good outline is important as it will ensure that you have a robust story and know where it's going. This means when you start to write, you will always know what's coming next and will be much less likely to suffer from the dreaded writer's block!

Developing your story idea before you get started is so important. So next time inspiration strikes, make sure you take your time to slowly but surely build your idea, and only once you have been able to flesh it out into a comprehensive and detailed plot outline should you begin to write.

Now you know all about developing your story idea, why not look at how to test whether your story idea is a good one?

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