Reviewing Your Ideas – Just Keep Stirring By William Meikle

Excerpted from Writing Tips Galore

Let’s talk about ideas. Ideas exist in a soup in your brain, and like all good soups, ideas need time to stew. The trick is to keep stirring. As the idea churns around in what passes for your creative capacity, you should periodically review it and ask yourself some questions.

Is it original?
If you have a pair of FBI agents chasing aliens with torches in dark rooms, or two cops on a murder case, one easy going and one irascible, or if your idea is for an article on “Why men are hopeless at housework,” the chances are the answer will be “No.” If your idea fails to be original, you’ll probably struggle to get it published.

Is it plausible (within the bounds of your chosen subject genre)?
If your cops find themselves in outer space, or your FBI agents suddenly turn up back in the Wild West, or your man has a totally new concept for ironing creases out of clothes using microwaves, it might be that your idea is a bit too wacky. On the other hand, you might have found just the twist that will make your story or article shine.

Is it workable?
Is this a piece that you could see yourself writing? Are there themes you might want to explore? Does the piece have potential for conflict or education? Most importantly, do you want to write it? If not, why bother? I have notebooks full of ideas that have failed two out of three of these questions and never made it any further.

Don’t assume that all ideas are good, new, original ones. Assuming so is a common beginner’s mistake, and editors see the same “great idea” on numerous occasions. (Please, please, please, don’t write a “Then we woke up, and it had all been a dream” story. It might be okay for Dallas scriptwriters, but they make a lot of money already.) If you introduce some quality control at the outset, it helps in the long run by weeding out the weaknesses; and your work will be all the better for it.

William Meikle from Kinross, Scotland, writes science fiction and fantasy stories and books. His books include The Johnson Amulet and Other Scottish Terrors, Island Life, Watchers trilogy: The Coming of the King and The Battle for the Throne, and Eldren: The Book of the Dark. He is a co-author of Writing Tips Galore: Turn Over a New Leaf for Writing & Marketing Success with Joseph Gregg, Billie Williams, and Linda Davis Kyle.

Excerpted from Writing Tips Galore