Monday, May 9, 2011
How to Know if Your Story is Worth Pursuing
Research the Market. Agents and publishers will always be more interested in a story that easily fits into a market. The stories that have no clear place or genre will more often be the ones that wallow in the slush piles. Research the market so you have an understanding of what sells and where it sells. This doesn’t mean we have to stick to the current trends. Usually a trend will die by the time we’ve finished writing our novel—which brings me to my next point:
Seek Originality. If the story idea is just another rehash of novels already in the market, then it’s probably best to either walk away or come up with an original spin on the story. Karen Gowen said it well in her post about themes: there are no new themes, only new stories. Find the twist that will make your story stand out from the rest.
Create Engaging Characters and Conflict. Before we pursue a story idea, it’s important to remember a great concept won’t necessarily be enough to generate a fabulous story. Readers want relatable, interesting characters to engage them. They want drama and conflict. They want to loose themselves in the story. A question worth asking is: will there be enough page-turning elements?
Think about it. This might sound obvious, but we don’t always turn on our brains. At least, I know I don’t. I learnt it’s worth finding out personal likes and dislikes in a story. To do that, we have to read a lot and think about our reactions to the stories. We can then ask ourselves whether or not our potential novel will have similar elements.
Find the Passion. If you can’t summon a deep excitement for a story, then perhaps it’s not worth pursuing. Stories shine when the authors care. It’s not always about getting published. It’s about the joy of creating the story. Without the passion, the project may never get finished.
What is it about the stories you like to read most?