Plan · Write

How to tell if you’ve got a story worth writing

how to tell if you've got a story worth writing

Okay, so you’ve got an idea. You’re excited about it, sure, but will anyone else be? Do you have enough to make a story out of it? It is worth pursuing? How do you tell? Ask yourself the following questions to find out.

  • Is it interesting to you? Just because you get a bit antsy to get something onto paper doesn’t mean it’s actually interesting. Think about it. Really, think about it. Is the topic something that will keep your mind busy for a while? Crafting a story may take a while depending on what medium you decide to work with, so make sure that the idea will be relevant and exciting to you throughout the duration of the project, and sometimes even afterwards. If you aren’t psyched about an idea, your reader won’t be. It’s obvious when people write with passion and conviction and it’s also obvious when they just, well, write.
  • How much will it take out of you?Most stories require some kind of research, even if it’s minimal. Some ideas will take more research than you can or are willing to give. Map out what would be necessary in order to do the project properly and determine if it’s something you are able to commit to. Don’t skip this. Readers will be turned off by poorly thought out plots and hastily scribbled ideas. A novel takes considerably more time than a flash fiction piece, so determine if writing it is in the cards or not.
  • What is the purpose of the story?If you are looking to create something for publication, trends matter immensely. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create the piece- you could always hold off on submitting it anywhere as public interests have a way of changing and no one wants to miss out on writing a great story- but it may mean you need to focus your efforts elsewhere for now and come back to it later.
  • Can it be fleshed out properly?Sometimes ideas turn out to be only that- an idea. In theory they sound wonderful, but in execution they may fall flat. It’s the classic surface appeal, but once you come down to outlining the story it seems that there is little or no depth. If it’s important to you, work with it. Try to add to it, tweak it, etc., but if there just isn’t enough there, don’t hang onto it forever. It’s better to move onto another piece that has more promise than to waste your time with something that you can’t quite get a handle on. Who knows? You may be able to revisit the piece with a fresh outlook and rework it into a masterpiece.

If the answers to these questions make you lean toward making the idea into an actual story, go for it. Just keep in mind that the circumstances may change as the story develops. Don’t be afraid to revisit these questions for the same piece. As the story shifts, so may your answers.

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