Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everything Writing on Wednesday

Hey, did you notice in the left sidebar that The Stone Traveler has been nominated in LDS Publisher's Best Cover Contest? If you liked my cover, please click over and vote for it. The deadline is Thursday, January 6th at midnight.

Now on with today's post.


I decided to change "Writing Tip Wednesday" to "Writing on Wednesday" for my blog this year. Why the subtle change?

So much is going on in the writing industry. More and more writers have an opportunity to become published. And more and more books are being offered not only in the stores, but online.

It's vital for writers to hone their talents, so I thought on Wednesdays I'd focus not only on helping you achieve your writing goals, by answering questions you may have or spotlighting the basics of writing, but that I'd also have an occasional posting by a guest writer, do an author interview, or even post a book review on Wednesdays. I wanted to jazz it up a bit while also doing what I can to make Writing on Wednesday all about this crazy profession we're drawn to.

I thought to start off the new year we'd discuss something very basic. Something you should think of before you sit down to write. So here we go . . .

We all have times when we have a brilliant idea for a book. But is that idea worthy of an entire novel?

Here are four very basic questions to ask yourself as you stretch and pull on that idea.

  • Is it really a story you want to tell?
  • Is this a story that will appeal to a broad audience?
  • Will characters in the story grow?
  • Are the stakes high enough?

Let's take these one at a time.

Is it really a story you want to tell?
Are you willing to stick with this idea, doing the research and writing for months about it until the book is finished? As I've talked with many writers, a lot of them have started a book, but have never finished. Why? Part of their problem is they've lost interest, they don't want to do the necessary research to make the story exciting and believable or they just don't have the time. So please, do yourself a favor and honestly think this over. Is this the story you want to tell?

Is this a story that will appeal to a broad audience?
Some of us have lived through trying ordeals. But would these ordeals appeal to a broad audience? How many writers have already written about the topic? Will you bring something different to the table? Also, what age group are you targeting with your book? Would they care about your story? If not, keep working on it until they will. But if your idea does appeal to a broad audience, great. You're almost ready to start.

Will characters in the story grow?
I can't tell you how important this is. Yes, there are books where the characters never learn a lesson and thus never grow, but did you enjoy reading about them? I remember reading a novel for several days, always hopeful that the characters would learn from their mistakes. Well, they didn't, and I felt as though I'd wasted my time. Please show your characters growing. If your story doesn't show growth, is it a story worth telling?

Are the stakes high enough?
This doesn't mean that the end of the world would happen if "A" doesn't save us from the bomb. But it could mean that if "X" doesn't realize she's a jerk she may never find true happiness and that very well could mean that her world could come to an end. Showing the high stakes of your story involves many aspects: setting the scene, characterization, and growth to name a few. All are vital to building a great story. . . and most importantly a story that a publisher will buy.

So if you've answered all the questions with a yes, you might have a story idea that will make a great novel. 

Next week we'll look at plotting and the importance of the opening page. Yep, we're starting at the very beginning that makes or breaks a novel.

Have a great writing week!!!


  1. These are terrific questions. And CONGRATULATIONS on the cover nomination! I love your cover and am heading over there to vote for you right now!

  2. Laura:
    I'm glad you liked the questions. Sometimes as writer we get caught up with an idea that sometimes goes no where. I know it's happened to me before.

    And thanks so very much for voting for my book!!! You're awesome!

  3. Those are great questions. Both the novel ideas I've run with are historical and the stories were so appealing I just had to flesh them out. I hope one day readers will enjoy them too!

  4. Stephanie,
    I love a good historical. Let us know how it's going and especially if you sell. :)

  5. Kathi,
    Loved the post (as always) and looking forward to your new Wed. postings. I too have heard of many who started and never finished. It made me wonder how many fantasic books we are missing out on because the author didn't see them through. I am learning that writing, like anything else worth doing in life, takes a major amount of work to do. Thanks for your questions, I'm going to scan each new idea through them.

  6. Christina:
    I'm glad you found the questions helpful. I can't tell you how many times I've thought of a wonderful opening for a book, but then later realized there wasn't enough to the idea that would carry through an entire book. We all live and learn.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  7. Wonderful advice. It's fairly easy to get an idea, but often difficult to take it all the way to the end. It's not a bad idea, though, to save the idea somewhere. It may come into play with another book idea.

  8. First, your cover is really wonderful. I'm not surprised it's been nominated.
    Second, these are a great list of questions to ask. I think I was able to answer yes to all of them for my WIP, so I'm happy!

  9. Hi Kathi! Thanks for the tips. I think I can say "yes" for all of those questions, but sometimes my devotion to the story wanes. Like right now. And congrats on the cover nomination! I'll have to go check it out.

  10. Good luck with your cover. I voted :)

  11. Helen,
    You're right. Sometimes those ideas can help to form a better idea for another story. Thanks for bringing that up. :)

  12. Lydia,
    Thanks for the compliment on my cover. I was fortunate to have a great designer assigned to my book.

    I'm glad you could answer yes to all the questions. Now get busy on that WIP. :)

  13. Jessie,
    I'm glad you can answer yes to the questions. You're not alone when it comes to devotion waning on a story. It's a problem many share with you. I'll have to give it some thought, and see if I can find some help for that problem.

    Thanks for the compliment on my cover. :)

  14. Carol,

    Thank you for voting for my book cover!!!

    I'm going to click over to LDS Publisher's site soon and see who won. :)

  15. Woo hoo on the cover Kathi! That's so cool. =)

    Great ideas, which I think are important to look at when one is trying to write. =)

  16. Carolyn,
    I was so excited about my book cover being in a contest. :)

    I'm glad you liked my ideas about thinking an idea over before starting a book. However, Helen made a great point. Even if the idea wouldn't make a great book, it made help with another one, so store those ideas away. You never know when you're going to need them.



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