Good Ideas Vs Good Stories

I notice it’s been a little while since I last posted here. Sorry. I’ve been a bit under the weather and I’ve been busy, mostly with writing. Some of what I’ve written I’m pleased with, other stories, erm, not so much. It’s reminded me, and I think this is a really, really important lesson for anyone beginning to write, that a good idea does not guarantee a good story. But not being able to turn a good idea into a good story does not make you a bad writer. 

There are often other ways to tell it (two of the best things, in my opinion, that I’ve written, have been tackled from half a dozen different angles) and, probably more often, it just doesn’t work. And that’s fine. Knowing when to give up and move on’s a really healthy thing to learn – that’s probably as important as learning that writing  something good takes a lot of time and hard work.
And let’s not forget, of course, that there are other good ideas that do make good stories.
So, um, that’s what I think about that.

18 Comments on “Good Ideas Vs Good Stories

  1.  by  Nicola Morgan

    Good point. And it helps explain why that perennial question ("Where do you get your ideas from?") is such a misguided question. Ideas are easy – it's turning them into stories that's the hard bit.

  2.  by  Nik Perring

    Exactly. Couldn't agree more. It's a case of: if it was that easy then everyone would be doing it, and all that, isn't it?

  3.  by  Marisa Birns

    Thanks for the reminder. You are so right. Writing something good DOES take time, and hard work. (editing, editing, and more editing :)I appreciate your point that not being able to turn a good idea into a good story does not make one a bad writer. It just makes one a writer who should move on to the next idea.

  4.  by  Nik Perring

    Hi Marisa, thanks for dropping by. Editing's definitely where it's at. But also finding out how the story wants to be told – which can often take a few false starts – takes time too. Never simple, is it!Nik

  5.  by  Vanessa Gebbie

    Hi NIkI havent writ a new story for yonkos.Then saw this, posted by Alex K on facebook, on his status.Zap! Story. have a go- and swap when you're done??vvvvvvvAbout 7:40 Wednesday night in Wokingham Road, Reading there were about 15-20 naked men running in different directions, each carrying a bag (probably with their clothes in)… Amazing! No idea what was going on..

  6.  by  andewallscametumblindown

    Another important lesson to learn is recognising when a story works and when it doesn't. It's a lesson that requires confidence and experience. I'll know when I've learnt it when I consider sending a story off without passing it by the writing group first. ~Miriam

  7.  by  Mare Biddle

    There's a lot to be said for the percolator too. Sometimes a good idea can become a good story if I leave it alone long enough for it to take shape without putting my keystrokes all over it. And sometimes not… 🙂

  8.  by  Nik Perring

    V – I'll try to give it a whirl. Interesting prompt!That's an interesting point, Miriam. I would say that constructive feedback's important at any level – I'm no Alice Munro but there are still trusted readers' opinions I like to get on my stuff. I think the point I'm making is that we're never good enough to do it completely on our own, and we should always be looking to learn. Mare – yes – very true. Giving things time to form can really, really help.Nik

  9.  by  Nik Perring

    Yes Lauri, and stories OFTEN have a mind of their own, I've found! They're ready when they're ready, we often have to wait.

  10.  by  Samantha Tonge

    The hard thing is when you have a great idea (in your opinion) like i recently have (ahem) but it hits problems like not fitting easily into an age group. I want to write mine as chick lit, but it is so 'out there' i am writing it for teens. Trouble is, the latter half of the story is more suited to 10 year olds, the first half more to 14+In other words, i should probably give it up. But i've come over all Jack Russell with it.Knowing when you should diss an idea is not too hard. Actually doing it is a bloomin' challenge.

  11.  by  Nik Perring

    My advice, for what it's worth, Sam, would be to write it the way YOU want to write it (or as a book you'd want to read) and see what happens. You can't please all of the people all of the time…It's easy for me to say though innit! 🙂

  12.  by  Samantha Tonge

    That's what i did with my last book, Nik:):)Have to say it is great fun, writing for oneself – but pragmatists might say that won't get you anywhere. Although many writers prove the exception to that rule.

  13.  by  Nik Perring

    Maybe that's what you need to keep doing?? Nothing's wasted. Could that have been a really huge step in finding your voice and what you want to write about?Trouble with writing is there's no formula…N

  14.  by  Michelle Teasdale

    Interesting to read your thoughts, Nik. I agree that it's all in the editing, which is WAY more painful than writing any first draft (in my case probably because I realise how awful my prose really is!).

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