Over the past many years, I’ve read blogs, listened to podcasts, and watched countless YouTube videos on coming up with an idea for book writing and they all are saying the same thing:
Coming up with the ideas is the easiest part
I may be alone in saying that coming up with the idea is rather difficult! In this post, I wanted to explain the approaches that I took on how I came up with my idea on my new book, The Dream Catcher that I am going to publish within the next few months. Let’s review your idea for book writing and see if we could put it to the test using the following 5 principles.
1. Be Interested in Your Idea
The idea for my new book, The Dream Catcher actually did not develop after hours of research and thinking. It didn’t come as a result of paying someone to come up with the idea. Rather, the idea came one night when I was sitting in my bed, thinking about some of the dreams that I had.
As a college student, one of my best friends had spoken about lucid dreaming. At the time, I really had done minimal research on the topic. He told me that he knew of ways to control his dreams. One night, he gave it a shot and it worked! That was a starting point to my interest in dreams. Then over the next few years, I would learn about how books recommend interpreting dreams, perhaps why dreams come and pondering over the question, can dreams have real meaning?
Going back to when I was sitting in my bed, thinking about my dreams, I already had a deep interest in the topic. The topic had fascinated me for years, so when the idea came to me to write on the topic of dreams and lucid dreaming, I became excited. Because of my excitement for the topic, it became easy for me to write the first few paragraphs.
2. Testing your Idea
When I was in elementary school, I loved to write. I would often times write a story for the sake of just writing something. During one of my writing streaks, I came up with an idea for a book, so I started typing the book out. After about 10 pages into the book, I printed out a copy of the book and let some of my family members read my book. It became obvious to me that they were instantly bored with my book.
On the flip side, when the idea of The Dream Catcher came to me and after working it out in my head, I told my wife about the idea. She immediately thought that the idea was a great one. I told a few others about the idea and they also thought the idea was a great one. After writing a few chapters, I shared them with a few people and let them read the initial attempt at the book. The interest in their eyes was far different than the look in the eyes of those reading my previous books.
I do have one word of caution on the approach that I took on gaining feedback on the idea, asking a few people, including family members is not a foolproof market research approach. Here are a few market research approaches that you could take to “test” your idea.
- Research and see how many people would are interested in a similar idea or topics. (Google Trends is a great starting point)
- Post on social media channels, asking for feedback on your ideas. Make a poll and let them vote
- Go to Amazon and look up similar books to see the response rate
3. Creating a Story Plot
Once you have the idea, and after you feel that you’ve done enough research on the idea to see how well it would do, the next step would be to further test your idea by creating a story plot. Creating a story plot is a great test because it helps you identify if that idea is something that you would be able to expound on for the entire book or better yet, books.
For me, when I started writing my story plot for The Dream Catcher, I pulled up a Google Sheet on Google Drive and started roughly writing what I thought the story plot would be. I focused on just the major parts of the storyline. After about 10 rows of a sentence or two, I concluded that the story plot was tested. During this period, I realized that two other books could be written based on this idea with ease.
Just as a side note, the ideas written in my original storyline completely changed over time. The climax turned about to be completely different. How the build-up to the climax completely changed. This approach was really a test to see if any reasonable story could be written from the idea.
4. Let your Idea Sit Overnight
This is honestly one of the best indicators if the idea that I had was a good one. The process of time seems to always work many wonders. Take the idea that you have tested and let it stand overnight. Don’t keep working on the idea, but just let it sit. In the morning, you may have realized that the idea that you thought was the best, may have not been as good as you may have thought.
This is the phase where so many of my ideas have fallen. J.K. Rowling was forced to follow this pattern. She revealed on her publisher’s webpage, Bloomsbury.com, that she was on a train when she came up with the idea. She had no paper, no pen, just her idea, and her mind. By the end of the train ride, the idea had worked into something a little different compared to when she first had the idea. Letting the idea incubate is healthy and it really is the ultimate test.
5. Stick with your Idea
The final point of knowing if the idea that you had is a good one is by asking yourself this simple question:
Will I be embarrassed by this idea when the book becomes published?
This is such a simple question, but it was a question that my wife asked me when I started writing this book. For my idea, I could honestly answer her question with a confident yes. So I now ask you this same question, will you be embarrassed if your idea is published?
With these tips and tricks on coming up with an idea for your book, you need to find what works best for you. There isn’t a one size fits all or secret formula that you could apply. However, there are principles that you could follow that could help make your publication become a success.