I recently read an article about letting your new story idea simmer before beginning the writing process and it got me thinking about how long do I actually allow my story to sit before I start writing? Because if you let it sit too long, you could lose it, but the flip side is that if it sits and you lose your drive for it…maybe it wasn’t the story for you after all and you just dodged a six month relationship with that story and those characters.
So, as I am brainstorming and getting ready to start working on my first novella in earnest next week, I thought I would write out the pattern of what I think will allow my idea to grow to it’s full potential before writing.
Getting the “best” from your story idea:
Capture your thoughts. Flow. Don’t worry if it sounds cloudy or like gibberish. You will polish later. You just need to capture the creative idea fairy before she flies away.
Brainstorm through research. After you have an idea, do some market research and see if that idea has room in the market. Will it be able to stand up against what’s currently out there? Is there a story that sounds waaay too similar to your book? This is where you want to find that out because before you do the work, you want to give your book the best shot at making it. Using what you’ve learned, add details to your idea outline and delete plot points that sound too much like other books in your genre and era.
Refine your thoughts. Now that you have your ideas and research down on paper, it’s time to refine them into a long synopsis, so you can actually formulate your thoughts coherently enough for you to communicate your idea to other people haha.
Mull it over. Set the story aside and go for a walk, a bike ride, or if you are snowed in like me, find something else to do that allows you to think, but not write. You need a break and your idea was just born, so it’s pretty tired too. Let it sleep.
Call your beta reader. Give him/her the basic idea. Not the whole entire synopsis, just the basic plot points and story arc. Listen to their advice with a pen in hand. If they love it, great! If they like it, you have some revision to do. Get them to love it.
Mull it over again. This time, mull it over with your long synopsis. If you agree with your beta reader’s feedback, cut it or enhance it until it is worthy of being in your story. (You want to have beta readers that challenge you, but also respect your decisions.)
Research the setting and era. Hit the history books. You want to make sure your story is accurate before you start writing about Maude’s train ride across America in 1805 as she sings Phantom of the Opera. Check for the historical accuracy of the names, of the machines and even music.
Be open to revising your plot. The other day, while researching for my novella, I came across an interesting piece of New Orleans history, so I asked my beta readers if I should change the direction of the middle part of my story and they loved it. Yay! So, be open to those wonderful gems that you discover in the research part of your story idea.
Mull it over one last time. Make sure your story is happy with its lot in life and if you are both satisfied, you are ready to finally get writing!!
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