I never started writing with a bad idea. In fact, I’m not even entirely convinced there is such a thing as bad story ideas or good story ideas. There are just ideas, some of which are well executed, some of which are badly executed and some of which are never executed because the would-be writer cannot decide the best way to do it, or is unwilling to try (though I feel that in the interests of public safety, I should point out that this only applies to story ideas; other kinds of ideas, like deciding to use Tabasco sauce as an eye-drop, really are bad ideas).
So, why do the marvellous ideas we start with so quickly turn into half-finished manuscripts that we are unable to finish and are ashamed to have even begun?
I’m beginning to learn that it comes down to perseverance (or a lack thereof) and perfectionism.
One of the biggest dangers we non-planning writers face is that you can easily end up writing screeds and screeds of excellent work, only to realise you can’t finish because you don’t know what it is you’re actually hoping to accomplish by writing. This is a recipe for another unfinished manuscript. So, before you write forty odd chapters and suddenly hit an insurmountable wall, ask yourself this question: What is my story about?
Well, we have finally come to the end of my impromptu series of lists of motives, goals, conflicts and epiphanies for your character, and so it wouldn’t take a genius to work out that today’s little list is all about epiphanies.
The six main categories of conflict are already pretty well established in writerly circles and I saw no point in deviating from it; however, to help you along, I have also included three possible examples of each. This is by no means and exhaustive list and I have tried to keep it generalised, but I hope you find it useful.
If you’re struggling to come up with an idea for your story, you might be tempted to Google story idea generators to help you out.
But do these little miracle makers really deliver the goods?
I decided it was probably time for me to knock together a little list of character goals… This list is a lot shorter than my list of motives, mainly because I’ve tried to keep these very general even though goals are usually very specific to the story, but I hope you’ll find it helpful.