You Have an Idea for a Novel...Now What?

clarity productivity start writing take action May 03, 2023
What to do with story idea

Have you ever had a great idea for a book and then...did nothing with it?

Coming up with a general story idea is usually the easy part. Knowing what steps to take next is what often gets us (and unfortunately keeps us) stuck. The key is to take action and write down/brainstorm the following things on paper - it's important to get it out of your head! 

The next time you have a book idea, brainstorm and write about these three things:

  1. Ask yourself why you must write THIS book. Why this particular story? 
    • What was the spark for your idea?
    • Does it keep popping into your head?
    • Why does the story matter to you?
    • Can you easily explain why other people would want to read this story?
    • It sounds simple, but having a strong WHY gives you the confidence to keep going, powering through any self-doubt you encounter along the way. It prevents you from quitting. And it makes your story powerful. Your WHY will flow through your words and readers will feel it. You'll give them a reason to care. They'll remember your story long after they finish it. If you have a strong why for your story idea, you'll be confident that this is the book you should write. 
  2. Figure out the point of your story. What's the big, thorny question your story is trying to answer?
    • The point your story is trying to make should be something universal (deeply human and emotional that resonates with us all) but also be specific to your protagonist.
    • Wrap up your story's point with compelling characters and amazing drama and you'll have a story that will hook your readers from start to finish. They will immerse themselves in the internal journey of your protagonist - how they transform from who they were on page one to who they are at the end, and what they had to learn/overcome to get there.
    • Having a general sense of your story's point before you start writing will guide you forward and make the writing process easier and more exciting as you try to discover the answer to your story's question. Every scene/chapter should serve the point you're trying to make.
    • It's okay if your story's point tweaks or changes as you go along. It's okay if it starts out very simple or cliche. It will become more specific as you go along, through story structure, voice, characters, etc.
  3. What's the plot?
    • We're just talking about a simple, overall plot. 50 words less. 1 or 2 sentences. Think of a tagline for a book or movie. 
    • You'll get around to developing a detailed plot later, but for now just stay focused on the basic elements of the plot. Coming up with a concise overall plot gives you a strong foundation to start with.
    • If you want to take it one step further, try out a quick, simple outline like "Pixar's 4th Rule of Storytelling". It basically outlines the beginning of the story to the end at a very high level, with a "and then this happens" cause-and-effect trajectory. (But you don't need to do this yet.)
      • Once upon a time, there was __________.
      • Every day, ____________.
      • One day _____________.
      • Because of that, ____________.
      • Because of that, ____________.
      • Until finally ____________.

Brainstorming these three things will give you a great start to move ahead with your story idea! And if you're struggling to find the answers to this exercise, it might mean your story idea needs some tweaking or a bit more thought. After all, you want to be excited to write this story!

When you approach your story with excitement and joy, it makes a world of difference in your writing journey!




Deep encouragement, mindset shifts, writing advice, actionable tips, and proven strategies to help you achieve your dream. You in?

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.