One Exercise to Determine if a New Idea is your Next Novel


It’s love at first sight.

S/he’s everything you could want in a potential mate. Without even knowing, you assume they’re smart, funny, and charming, as well as into every one of your hobbies. Like the lead in a romantic comedy, you expect to sweep them off their feet while humorously trying to not trip over yours.

You introduce yourself. Pour your heart and soul out in an attempt to woo them without going through the awkward semi-dating phase. You just want them, in your life, now.

They smile. Perfection. S/he opens their mouth –
– and out comes the most annoying sound in the world. It’s like a parakeet and a howler monkey had a misbegotten baby that somehow found a bullhorn. Nothing s/he says is understood because you are completely focused on how terrible they sound.

You make an excuse. Anything. Just to get away. As your walking away, you take one last look over your shoulder. Now you see the wrinkles, the imperfections. How could you have possibly thought they were the one for you?

Applicable, I Swear.

Why do we do this to ourselves? It isn’t just dating, or writing, or picking a new toothbrush. We glorify and go blind in the light of something new. Our subconscious decides it’s tired of the humdrum of what we have, and that thing (whatever it is) over there is so much better than what we have. We need it. It calls to us.

So how do you tell the difference between good (or bad) idea and novel-worthy thought?

Are you Curious or Obsessed?

Passion. It drives all of us silly human beings to do crazy things. Most of the most horrible travesties of the past can be linked back to passion driving some idiot or another to do something silly. Punch a friend. Start a war. Sleep with a two. Wait, passion or beer?

You know what?

Moving on.

Is it curiosity that drives you to check out this new idea, or full-fledged stalker-quality obsession that drives you towards it?

If you are curious, you’ll want to see how things turn out. Maybe you remember it while doing a chore or work at the office. It’s interesting, perhaps even awe-inspiring, but as soon as something more fun comes around, you forget the whole thing and move on. It’s only curious when there’s nothing better to do.

If you are obsessed, it will take up your whole scope. Scenes should randomly float to your mind. Conversations with friends and coworkers will become juicy novel-fuel where you attempt to piece together the duct tape you will use to bind plot holes. You are driven.

Stop Blathering and Just Tell us – How do you Tell the Difference?

Easy. Write about it.

Give yourself fifteen minutes to write about it. Make it the equivalent of small talk. Do whatever it is you normally start when you start a novel. Plot, write, character interviews – whatever. Maybe it will be awesome, or maybe it will be all wrong. Giving it the time of day is the only way to know.

Once you’ve done your fifteen minutes, go find something more awesome to occupy your mind. Whatever it is that you enjoy (that isn’t writing) and takes some sliver of your attention. Give yourself time to get drawn in.

Do you still feel drawn to that idea, or are you happily plugging away at whatever else you’ve invested in?

That’s how you know. Simple, huh?


2 thoughts on “One Exercise to Determine if a New Idea is your Next Novel

  1. So very true. I’ve had the same thing bubbling away on the back burners of my thinkbox for years now. Every now and then comes an amazing epiphany that solves all the knots that made me put it back there in the first place. It’s a delicious obsession!!!

    • Hi Allison! My co-worker is like that… in that he’s had an epic fantasy boiling in his brain for years and years… he’s finally now starting to write it after I bullied him a little.

      My issue is that my “bubbling” idea is a paranormal/vampire romance… and we all know what modern readers feel about those now (pooh.) It should have been written when I started to draft it (six years before Twilight). It would have been amazing. I still add to it occasionally… waiting for the fad to come back around…

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