Apr. 19 Writing Prompt

It is Ideas Week here on the blog and yesterday we talked about the raw idea. This is the term I use for an unedited, initial idea that you think will make a great story.

Today, we will work with an idea that you pick and figure out if it is a good idea, or if it is something that needs to be discarded.

The bad news is that not all ideas will make great stories, regardless of your talent.

The good news is that if you learn to identify these sour ideas early, you won’t waste time writing for nothing.

But how do we identify if an idea is bad before we write it out?

Welcome to the conversation!

The answer is actually quite simple. It is an old copywriting technique that I have adapted for the use of this very thing. The prompt will be a little more limiting, as you will see. But the concept can go on until you are sure, one way or another.

Let’s take a look at that prompt and get started.

April 19

Take one of your “what if” question ideas from yesterday. Write the idea at the top of your page then ask 25 questions about the idea, answering them in the end.

Now, this is explained a lot further in the writing course (and with a few additional steps to really seal the deal), but the main idea is here.

Before you ever start to write chapter 1, or plan who will play your MC in the movie version, you need to determine if months and years of writing are worth the idea. If you find it is not, you will save yourself a lot of strife.

Questions and Answers
Questions and answers are everything

The 25 questions and answers is a bare minimum. In the course, I ask the students to go for at least 200. But this is a writing prompt, not a novel writing task.

Here is how it breaks down, though.

You want to ask questions that will build out the story. Can you get a beginning, middle and end from that idea?

Will you be able to identify a protagonist and an antagonist? Are there stakes? Are the stakes going to be high enough?

Only you will be able to answer that, based on the idea you have and the questions you ask of it.

Here is a free course lesson hint: When you ask your questions, don’t try to make the idea real and full, instead, try to make the idea fail. Attack it as if it is a bad idea. When it stands up to the scrutiny, you probably have something.

So, get to work on your questions. And be sure to give them all full, complete answers.

When you finished, let me know in the comments if it has helped you see how to identify good ideas versus bad ones.

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