How to Come up with a Book Idea
You want to write a novel, but you don’t know how to come up with an idea. You’re sitting there at your keyboard or notebook and it just isn’t happening. You’ve doodled Mickey Mouse several times and you’ve created som new abstract work of art that might become the next wallpaper design for your computer, but yet, zero, zilch, zippo. Welcome to The Reality World, Novel Limbo.
Yes, that was a slight homage to The Real World, the real one from way back when. Yes I saw the very first one when it was in New York. You know, back when reality TV was not as obnoxious and pardon my saying this ‘silly’. If you have been around you know I can’t say the ‘st**id’ word because I’ve taught my son ‘B’ that it’s a bad word. You never want your kid to accidentally say something just because its part of is vocabulary. Okay parenting thing over with. I still wonder about that date the girl went on and the guy told her she had wide hips that were good for breeding. What was that about?
But now back to the coming up with a book idea. And actually my digression up there is part of the problem, distractions. Or is it?
Why couldn’t I write a book about the ‘Bad words for Boys’? I just copyrighted that in case anyone is wondering. ChuCHING! I guess that’s how you spell that. Anyway, that’s an example of how to come up with an idea. Just listen to yourself and pay attention to your world. I could have edited the whole part out about my son ‘B’ but I didn’t. I am free flow writing the article and let it happen and there it is. I’m leaving it in as an example.
But let’s get down to other ways of how you actually can do it. I didn’t come up with the idea for ‘Bad word for Boys’ until I started writing this article and actually wrote those words of randomness.
Things to do:
- Live life-Yes, you should experience life so you have something to draw from. This isn’t to say go out and sky dive. This means live. Exist. Function.
- Write what you know about-I know it’s an old standard but it’s true. I know about what ‘Bad words for Boys’ are, so I can write about it. I could write about living with various health problems that are out of my control.
- Sit down and just start writing-Just write whatever comes to mind, journal if you need to, just write and an idea will come. I encourage people to do writing prompts, either from a book of them or even those posted daily through websites. I seriously wrote an article about a need for Pants Vending Machines from a prompt. I never would have come up with it if there hadn’t decided to see what the prompt of the day was, and it was about Vending Machines that were needed. I chose pants.
- Take a favorite story and twist it 180-Look at the takes on Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and The Wizard of Oz. These are direct twists, but you can even take a story and just twist it and make it its own.
- Write down your thoughts-Keep a note pad handy or some recorder device to write down what comes to mind even at night. You won’t remember that great idea in the morning. I know I had a great poem idea the other night and I even remember that the lines were perfect, but I don’t remember what they are.
I’ll give you two examples of how ideas can happen. I recently interviewed two authors; Alysha Kaye of The Waiting Room, and Cyril Bussiere of The WorldMight. The books are completely different, worlds apart, but both involve love that is apart. Now let’s look how they came up with those ideas.
Here is Alysha Kaye from our recent interview:
“I had a dream about waiting for my boyfriend after death. I was in a strange room that looked a lot like an airport terminal. I wound up writing him a (very cheesy) poem about it and somehow, that became an entire novel! I couldn’t get it out of my head.”-Alysha Kaye
A dream that ended up as a poem that turned into a The Waiting Room, a published novel. You’ve had those dreams. You just need to write them down as quickly as possible when you wake up while they are fresh. Will those dreams be a book? Not always, but you will have them there to find out.
Now for Cyril Bussiere from a quote in our interview:
“Then an idea came to me while driving a U-haul truck across Texas . . . about a princess trapped in a sleeping beast and her prince trying to free her; and he needs a word that has never been said to wake the beast up and rescue her.”-Cyril Bussiere
See, the monotony of driving a truck across Texas probably led him into this mindless state of wandering thoughts and there it was; his first novel, The WorldMight. It took time before it continued further but it did continue.
If you wanted to you could sit down and force yourself through a regime to develop an idea.
- Take a topic or subject you like
- Start researching it
- Find some fact either known or preferably obscure, and start working with it
- Then start either by the seat of the pants writing or outlining
I had an idea for a novel but had no idea how to work it. I started researching and things suddenly clicked. Now the book is so in depth that I haven’t finished it because of the complexity of what I want to do with it, but I could make it a lot simpler and just finish it. (By the way, using ‘just’ is a pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand it when I use it.)
But there are these little things you can find during research that will amaze you. If you are amazed then there will be others that are as well.
The real secret? I’ll tell you but you can’t tell anyone else. You have to keep working at it. Don’t give up on it. Writing is easy, writing well is difficult, creating a novel and publishing it is excruciating. That’s not trying to discourage you, that’s just telling you what it can be, it’s keeping it real . . . Real-no, not going to do it again.
So how do you come up with a novel idea? And it truly is a novel idea because you want to be a different to capture the attention of readers. You pay attention and listen to yourself and write. Write down every little dream you have, every thought you think is cool, random, or oddball, journal, just write.
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