Developing an idea. It sounds easy, but it’s one of the biggest decisions a writer can make. Especially when tackling longer projects (50,000 – 120,000 words), you’re committing a huge chunk of time to that project. So, developing that first idea is crucial. You’re going to be spending hundreds of hours with it, after all.
So, where the heck do you start? Everyone has a different answer for this, and none of them are wrong. You start wherever that first idea sparks. Whether that’s a character, a plot, a twist, or a scene, write it down. You can always figure out the rest–that initial idea is the gold mine. For God’s sake, WRITE IT DOWN. Too many a great idea got lost in forgotten memories.
I wrote in 2014 about how to choose an idea, but developing an idea is so much more than choosing. You need to take a fleeting moment of inspiration and turn it into something actionable. You need to take a single idea and turn it into something that will sprawl hundreds of pages. This is where the hard work begins.
If you’re looking at an idea and thinking, I haven’t got a clue how to develop this into something real, it’s probably not worth pursuing. Getting an idea is great, but being able to turn that idea into something concrete is where the magic happens. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that you’ll be spending hundreds of hours with that novel idea. Hundreds of hours, and sometimes years of your life. Developing an idea is key to deciding whether it’ll survive those hundreds of hours and months/years of your life.
That initial idea–that spark of genius that felt so exciting–can you make it last?
Can you take that idea and write an outline? Can you write the first chapter and have all kinds of ideas for where to take the story next? You need to find out. If you can’t, don’t be discouraged; this is part of the process. Find that thing that lights your heart on fire and run with it. Keep the momentum; that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about. Write every day. Develop that idea into something real and see if it’ll withstand the test of time.
You’re a writer. Ideas are not hard to come by, but good ideas deserve to be developed into something more than an idea. Write it all down. It’s all worth exploring.
How do you decide which ideas are worth pursuing? How do you decide which project is next? Please comment below!