WRITING GUIDE: How to choose your next story idea

The inspiration for a new story idea can hit you everywhere. You can be in the shower, on a walk or in the middle of a conversation with someone. What is hardest is to choose, which of your ideas you actually dedicate the time to turn it into a story. In this part of the writing guide we talk about how you find out, which idea is the right one to focus on.

Create a List of Ideas

When inspiration hits you the first thing to do is writing it down as soon as possible. This can be in your phone, a notebook or even just some random papers. Make sure you take a note somewhere, so you don´t forget your brilliant idea. When you collected a couple of different ideas, it can be helpful to create an idea-list.

Outline Your Ideas

Now that you got a list of ideas, I recommend you to outline your idea. If you are a plotter this will be easy for you. Don´t worry if you are a pantser as me, you don´t need to outline your hole book idea! It´s enough to write down some basics and create a short story pitch.

Write A Scene

Even if you haven´t figured out the main characters or the story line yet, it can help to write down a scene that you have in your head. This gives you an idea of the tone and mood of the story. It doens´t need to be the first chapter, nor does the scene actually have to end up in your manuscript later. It´s just a tool to understand your story idea. It might be a conflict, a dialog or love scene what ever inspires you and feels right to the story idea. For me personally those little scenes often turn into major key chapters. If your fingers are literally tingling and you don’t want to stop writing, it´s a good sign that you’ve found an idea that interests you enough to turn it into a story. At this point you might already realize, that you sit longer on one of the ideas as it interests you the most.

Rank Your Ideas

Once you defined your ideas, created a pitch and maybe even wrote some short scenes, but still don’t know, which story you want to write next, it´s time for a ranking. You could rank the ideas with stars. Think about some critics by which you want to valuate the ideas. Write down the reasons, why you want to write each of the story ideas. Is it a special topic, that you feel personally attached to? Is the genre you want to write in a mix of two existing ones and you feel like you could create a new trend? Or can you just not stop thinking about this idea? All these and more can be indicators, that you have your special idea right in front of you. Even though in the beginning you might find all your ideas interesting, there will be one, your gut feeling leads you to.

Choose Fun Over Trends

Go for the idea that excites you the most, not the one you think you will find most readers for. You will sit month or maybe even yours on a writing project. You don´t want to waste your time over an idea you might loose interest in halfway through. Only when you are really enthusiastic for your idea, you will make it to the end.

Enjoy The Flow

Getting into the writing flow is the best feeling. Don´t worry, if you don´t get that feeling right away. Sometimes you will need time to get to that point. When inspiration hits you and you suddenly have a scene in front of your eye, want to write down quotes or create a story board and really want to start writing – then it´s a good signs that you’ve found the right idea.

Learn more about writing methods: Plotting vs. Pantsing

Check this post out: How to write a novel in 30 days

I wish you all the best with your ideas! What helps you to choose between your idea? If you have tips for the other readers, feel free to write them in the comments,

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45 comments

  1. I think this works for anything, not just writing, when you have too many ideas! it’s always good to write them all down so you can look at them critically and pick the best one 🙂

    Hope that you are having a good weekend 🙂 Thankfully it hasn’t rained as much as predicted this weekend so we have been able to enjoy time outdoors.

  2. Liebe Tiziana, obwohl ich selbst ja keine Bücher schreibe, finde ich diese Einblicke in das Autorenleben immer ganz besonders interessant. Es freut mich daher, dass du so detailliert darüber schreibst. Vieles davon kann ich absolut sofort nachvollziehen und manches wende ich – natürlich im kleinen Ausmaß – auch beim Schreiben meiner Blogbeiträge an. Ideen für einen Beitrag finde ich gerne im Alltag, bei einer ungewohnten Situation, einem besonderen Erlebnis und es ist dann auch so, dass manchmal die Finger nur so über die Tasten fliegen und manche Themen sich einfach nicht entwickeln wollen. Dann breche ich auch schon mal ab und widme mich einem anderen Punkt.
    Hab einen ganz wunderbaren Abend und alles Liebe Gesa

  3. What a beautiful post. Just today I was talking to a friend that one of my biggest dreams is to write a book. Reading your post tonight was like an epiphany, and I really think I’ll start doing it. You have given some super useful and very concrete advices. So often we use to think that to write a book you have to have in mind almost the entire story, but it’s true that it’s enough to start with a small step, even just a scene. And slowly everything flows naturally. Thanks for your words, they inspired me!

    xx Dasynka

  4. Hey Tiziana, so happy to see new content over here! Hope you’re doing good!

    Oooh these great tips, and not only for storytellers but also for writers that work on articles, chronicles, essays or other kind of written information. I am not a professional writer, but I love to write so these are really useful recommendations that I can apply in my daily life.

    I totally agree with you in all these tips, specially in appreciate the flow. I feel that sometimes we just want the idea to pop out perfectly and we spend so much time trying to find the right words, but lately I am writing the words as they come to my mind and then I polish the text. Also letting the work rest for a little while could help.

    Oooh and thats why I always carry a small notebook with me, as you mentioned inspiration can pop up everywhere! And if not I use my cellphone and I send myself a message with the words as they come to my mind haha.

    Stay safe and keep creating 🙂

    PS: lovely photo to illustrate the article by the way!

  5. Hi Tiziana,
    danke für diesen schönen und inspirierenden Beitrag! Ich habe zwar eine Idee, da ich ja aktuell (mehr oder weniger, haha) an meinem Buchprojekt arbeite, aber ich finde, die Tipps können auch beim Plotten oder bestimmten Szenen/Kapitel total helfen, wie ich gerade feststelle 🙂 Wenn da bestimmte Dinge im Brainstormen auffallen, könnten das ja auch Aspekte sein, die der Story nochmal eine besondere Richtung geben.
    Liebe Grüße!

  6. These are great tips. I remember writing short stories when I was younger, but haven’t written anything for a while. Maybe this is a sign to write down some ideas! I do write out different project/blog post ideas, so not too far away from writing.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Aimsy xoxo
    Aimsy’s Antics

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