Where do ideas come from?

Readers and new writers often wonder where authors get their ideas. It’s easy to imagine, when you’re reading a book and aren’t familiar with the story-creation process, that the idea for the story must have popped into the author’s head fully formed. You’ve probably guessed, though, that must rarely be the case. The truth is, writers have to shape and mould — and reshape and remould — their ideas throughout most of the story-writing process. Chances are the story you end up writing after completing this program will differ, at least in some respects, to the idea you develop in this step. Why? Because story ideas evolve and are developed over time. Keep that in mind as you progress through this step and those that follow.

You’ve already done quite a bit of work on developing your story. You know your subgenre, the trope you’d like to tackle, the themes you’re passionate about and want to cover, and the issue that will be at the heart of your story, so it’s quite possible you have the seed of an idea germinating in the back of your mind; perhaps for a character, the story’s setting, or even a specific scene that might play out somewhere in the story. Or maybe you still have no clue what the specifics of your story will be — and that’s completely fine because it’s our focus for this step.

If you’re a revising writer, don’t let fear of a rewrite hold you back from exploring new options. Remember why you signed up for this program — something in your manuscript isn’t working and you need to conduct extensive revisions. The revision process is all about “killing your darlings”, and sometimes those darlings are entire subplots, characters or scenes. Don’t be afraid to take your story in a completely new direction. Use this opportunity to look at it from new angles, new perspectives, and you’ll be amazed at what new ideas you come up with.