Writing Tip # 4

Here’s the next article in my series of writing tips.


This tip can be a tough one. I believe that at first an idea for a story or a novel can be a fragile thing and it might need to be protected. I like to let an idea roll around in my head for a while, or put it on the back burner in my mind to cook. I believe while the idea is “cooking” or “growing” or “developing” or whatever metaphor you want to use, you should keep this idea to yourself as it grows. You could jot down some notes, possibly a quick character outline, or even a simple outline of the story itself, but I believe you should still keep the idea close for a while.

I’ve broken this rule a lot over the years. My favorite sounding board to bounce ideas off of is my wife. And sometimes, especially when an idea hasn’t grown yet or become fully-formed, I will tell her about it. And then as I start describing the idea to her, it begins to sound a little stupid (sometimes – not always). And then I’ll say to her: “Wow, that idea sounded a lot better in my mind.”

I’ve heard other writers say that an idea can be talked to death while it’s still in the growing stage; the magic of the idea can be lost if it’s talked about too much. You may get a bad reaction from someone you’re telling the idea to, and then you may abandon an idea before really giving it a chance.

Now I’m going to contradict myself.

Once the idea is fully-formed or has come to a full boil on your mental stovetop, it may be time to talk it out with someone. Again, I turn to my wife (she loves it, I swear!). If you’re lucky enough to have someone to bounce ideas off of, you might want to do that at this stage.

Ultimately it’s up to you as a writer if you ever want to talk an idea out or not before you begin your first draft. Like I said above, I talk some of my ideas out with my wife, or my sister, or other members of my family, and it really seems to help. Sometimes if I’m stuck on a spot in the story, just talking it out can help lead to a solution. Of course trying to write through a spot you’re stuck on in your story should be your first choice, but talking it out has helped me many times in the past.

Just one word of caution though. You might talk your idea out with someone and they may not like your idea. That’s okay … it’s their opinion. But if you still can’t get the idea out of your head even after a negative reaction, you can’t stop turning the idea around over and over in your mind, then you may still want to run with it. I’ve had ideas that I wasn’t sure about at first, but I kept them on the back burner in my mind, returning to them every once in a while, changing things here and there, until everything just started to click into place. And soon the story in this particular pot was boiling over and I couldn’t wait to start writing.

Talking your idea out with someone when it’s at the right stage can really help.

I hope this tip helps someone out there, and please feel free to share your own writing tips, or anything else you want to share.

Until next time …




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