How to Test a New Story Idea: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

New story ideas often spring into our minds at the most random times, while cooking dinner, wandering through the supermarket, or just as we’re falling asleep. How do we figure out if they are good ideas and if they have the potential to run with? I have put together some articles and podcasts to help you figure out if your shiny new story idea can last the course and be developed into a novel.

  1. How to Ensure Your Story Has a Strong Premise – 2024 – MasterClass

Story premises serve as both a hook for the reader and a guiding light for the writer. They can provide a storytelling roadmap from the first page to the last. This article shares 4 steps for creating a strong premise, including beginning with a theme, asking yourself simple questions about the story, and ensuring that your characters have a strong motivation.

  1. How to Test an Idea Before Writing the First Draft (savannahgilbo.com)

Savannah tells us that you can test a story idea before writing the first draft and she shares two different ways to do this. The first exercise is to write your storyline which is the gist of the idea in 1 or 2 sentences. Examples of well-known stories are given. The second exercise is to write your elevator pitch which is around 250 words. This doesn’t give away the ending but does cover the main conflict and stakes, and covers the who, what, where, and why. Again, helpful examples are shared.

  1. How to Test Drive Your Story Idea for a Novel (prowritingaid.com)

While story ideas can come flying in at the oddest of times and are as endless as your imagination, how do you know if your story idea is worth the commitment of time and energy it takes to write a book? It’s important to realise that a story idea is not a plot and that you need to build a plot structure around your idea to see if it will sustain a full story. This article provides exercises for you to get a sense of your characters and the flow of the story. By doing this, Prowriting Aid tells us that it is like taking a new car out for a test drive, you will become clearer about your story idea and its potential.

  1. 4 Ways to Verify Your Story Concept Is Strong Enough – Helping Writers Become Authors

This article covers 4 ways to verify if your story concept is strong enough. It defines a good story concept and says they must be unique, dichotomous, and simple. Does your concept have something thematically? What is your concept best suited for? After asking these questions, the writer should revise how your story concept looks in light of your answers. Is it solid and exciting? Is it teeming with avenues for you to explore?

  1. 12 Point Checklist For Your Story Goal – Writers Write

This article shares a 12-point checklist to make sure you have a powerful story goal and a compelling plot. What is your story’s goal? Who is driving it and is it believable and compelling enough? Will the goal sustain the scope and length of the story?

PODCASTS
  1. How To Win NaNo: A Writing Podcast: Committing to an Idea: Interview with Grant Faulkner on Apple Podcasts

This episode from the How to Win at Nano podcast talks to Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo, about how to pick your novel idea and stick to it.

  1. Where Do You Get Ideas? – How To Win NaNo: A Writing Podcast | Listen Notes

Another episode from the How to Win at Nano podcast, asks where do story ideas come from. How do you choose what to write? How do you keep track of your ideas? This episode also discusses tips for generating novel ideas.

Although ideas give us the spark to start a story, a lot more work is needed to figure out if it is a story worth running with, so it’s important to test your idea. Note down your ideas so that even if they don’t turn into a complete story, there may be material there that you can use in another story. I hope this week’s column has been useful to you. As always, please get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, her debut novel, The Lies Beneath is out now, published by Poolbeg.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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