How Good Is My Idea? Solved!

Every so often you’ll probably see a question on writing forums asking to bounce an idea of other users. And I get it; you want to test out the idea before you spend hours and hours worldbuilding it, which definitely seems like a smart move.

But here’s the thing: Any idea can be good and any idea can be terrible.

A lot of the time when people ask whether their idea is any good they offer the bare bones of an idea, as I have said that’s understandable because you don’t want to put too much time into it and then realise it’s going nowhere. But there’s a bit factor that you have to take into account:

It’s all in the execution.

You’re asking whether this would make a good book and there are so many variables that go into making a good book. The initial spark that makes it work (or not) isn’t what will ultimately make a good or bad book, there are lots of other variables like characterisation, pacing, how exposition is handled and so on. So at this very early stage it’s very hard to judge. It’s important to remember that an early stages then anything has the potential to be either truly brilliant or absolutely terrible.

It could sound like a terrible idea but be executed brilliantly and then everyone would love it.

Or it could sound amazing and be executed really poorly.

For example, take Jim Butcher, the author of the great urban fantasy series The Dresden Files. He has a wonderful anecdote for one of the reasons his series Codex Alera came into being.

The story goes that a member of an online writing workshop bet Jim Butcher he couldn’t write a good story out of a bad idea. Jim Butcher accepted the challenge and even upped the ante by mixing two bad ideas of the challengers choosing.

The two ideas:

  • Pokémon
  • The Lost Roman Legion

He mixed those up and came up with the series The Furies of Calderon which a lot of people love.

Whether or not you think that mixing Pokémon and The Lost Roman Legion would be a good idea (personally, I think even on the face of it it sounds amazing) the person who suggested it clearly thought it was a bad idea. But it was well executed and people really like the Codex Alera series.

I think the key is to have confidence in your idea and be willing to put the work in to do it right.

If you do that, then every idea is a good idea.

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