3 Simple Ways to Decide Which Story Idea You Should Write About

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=”” video_preview_image=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=”” type=”legacy”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”true” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_sizes_top=”” border_sizes_bottom=”” border_sizes_left=”” border_sizes_right=”” type=”1_1″ first=”true”][fusion_text]Very often I hear a new writer say,

“I have ten ideas for novels. Which one should I write?”

I’ve been fortunate enough to guess the right answer to that question a number of times. For example, more than 20 years ago I had a publisher ask which of their books she should push big in the coming year. I chose Harry Potter, then advised her on the advertising campaign that made it the bestselling book of all time. In addition, I’ve advised several other students who went on to become international bestsellers.

When I hear that question, part of me wants to answer,

“Why, write all of them, of course!”

But the real question that they’re asking is,

“Which one is most valuable? Which will be most rewarding?”

Here are “3 Simple Ways to Decide Which Story Idea You Should Write About”

1. Write the one that will make you the most money.

Which of your ideas has the largest potential audience—one that you can tap into. If you have an idea for a big thriller that will sell two million copies, you probably should write that instead of the sad-clown drama that won’t sell fifty copies. You can easily do some research by studying bestseller lists to begin getting an idea of how well your book might sell. You can also go to publishersmarketplace.com and buy a membership to study how much publishers paid in advance for similar novels to what you want to write. If similar books rake in million-dollar advances, then you know what to do.

2. Write the book that your heart most wants to write.

It might not make you a lot of money, but it will be fulfilling. Besides, if you’re emotionally committed to a novel and feel that you “have to” write it, your passion will show. Such novels tend to win awards and get better word-of-mouth advertising.

Don’t write a romance novel just because you think it will sell. If you don’t love the idea behind the novel, there’s an excellent chance that you’ll muck it up.

3. Be unique. A novel should be novel—a “one of a kind experience.”

I know a few indie authors who have effectively started their own genres, things like “military fantasy” where wizards join in with modern warfare, or “literary RPG,” where fine stylists explore classic role-playing game tropes. In such cases, the authors are finding untapped niche markets and succeeding wildly. So which of your ideas is the most unique?

Ideally, you’ll have an idea that is unique, that you’re passionate about, and that fits into a large established genre so that you won’t have to go hunting for readers. Ultimately, though, you as an author have to decide, “What do I want from this novel? If I’m going to give it a year or more of my life, what do I need in return?”


Due to the epidemic, Dave has postponed all appearances for the foreseeable future, and will not be presenting any live workshops for the summer. However, he is teaching some great workshops online. If you’re interested in learning about his Apex writing group then email apex to apexwriter@xmission.com and we will send you further instructions.

If you also really want to take this time to sharpen your writing skills, he will still have two online workshops that are starting soon, March 28th.

The Advanced Story Puzzle: How to Brainstorm and Outline a Bestseller

The Advanced Story Puzzle covers the steps involved in prewriting and outlining your novel.

Learn to identify what pieces you need, what pieces you’re missing, how to find the elements you lack, how to know if a piece to your story puzzle is worthy of being included, and how to know if you’re even working on the right “puzzle”.

There are six lessons on setting, character, conflict, plotting, theme, and treatment. You will also have weekly video conferences where we can discuss your story and answer any questions. Turn in your weekly assignments and I will grade them and give further advice.

Writing Enchanting Prose

You’ve read stories that absolutely swept you away into another world, stories made you forget you were reading and ultimately left you changed. This workshop is designed to teach you how to enchant your readers.

Similar to the Advanced Story Puzzle, there are eight lessons with weekly conference calls and assignments.

You can find more information on both workshops here: http://mystorydoctor.com/online-workshops/


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