A few weeks ago, one of my mailing list subscribers replied to my email. She wants to write a book, but she’s worried her idea isn’t good enough and too similar to something that has already been done.
It’s such a common concern with new writers–one that I myself had when I wrote my first book–that I decided to address it here.
So! *rubs hands together* How DO you know if your book idea is good and/or unique enough?
Is My Idea Good Enough?
I had the same worry when I was writing my first book. I thought there had to be some kind of formula that would help me figure out whether my idea was any good or whether I should move on to something else.
But, of course, there isn’t. Neither does there need to be, because the answer is easy:
Your idea is good enough.
I don’t need to know your WIP to say that, because in writing, there are no bad story ideas just like there are no perfect ones. Your idea, whatever it is, is perfect because it exists. From there, it can grow into anything.
The books you love–the ones by famous authors you see in bookstores–didn’t start out with a shiny cover and strong plot and well-rounded characters. Those things take time to develop, which in turn takes a lot of work.
So, it doesn’t matter what your idea is because every idea has the potential to become something wonderful. It doesn’t need to win prizes right now–it only needs to exist because it’s a start, nothing more.
Your dedication, perseverance, beta readers, and editor will help you make it great, but that’s a process.
Your final product–the book you’ll end up publishing–is so much more than your initial idea, so don’t let said idea worry you now. It’s a fantastic stepping stone to a story that’ll only exist if you chip away at it until you can’t do any more.
Is My Idea Unique Enough?
Again, I worried about this myself, more so than about the first point.
I’m a big gamer now, but back when I wrote my first book I’d only ever played one game.* My two main characters were races from that game because that was the extent of my fantasy knowledge.
I was so worried I’d taken an idea unique to that company, not realising that both races are as common as books in my house–either in other games or throughout history in mythology and legends.
I just figured that, when I got an agent, they’d take care of it or advise me accordingly**.
Here’s the thing:
Pretty much everything has been done, so if you’re looking for something new you’ll be looking for a while. That doesn’t mean unique ideas are impossible to find, but it does mean that you shouldn’t worry too much about it.
Your idea is only the foundation. You can put a different twist on an old idea and make it yours. Lots of writers have started with something similar but taken it in different directions, simply because their interests and experiences are different.
Only you can write your book your way. The idea doesn’t need to be unique, because whatever spin you put on it and your author voice will make it yours.
If a TV show or another book sparks an idea, it’s not off-limits. For example, if Lord of the Rings inspires you, don’t write a book with hobbits, elves, some humans, and a wizard who go on a quest to destroy a ring in a volcano together.
What got your interest? The journey? The terrible odds? The bread unique to elves? Start there and see what happens. And if the plot takes you into unexpected directions, embrace it.
*Sacred by Ascaron Entertainment, anyone?
**You can tell this is going a while back. I didn’t know self-publishing was a thing then, and thank gawd for that, too. This book should not see online shelves!
Are you concerned your idea isn’t enough? Make a tea, get some biscuits, and talk to me <3
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