Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's the Big Idea

If you're going to write a novel that's worth publishing, you need to know that your "idea" is big enough to sustain the story. As John Irving said,
The craft of a novel is simply to make the story better, more compelling, more unstoppable on page four-hundred than it was on page forty.
Has your novel idea got what it takes? Good question.

Katharine Weber has written an excellent guest blog post over at Christina Baker Kline's writing blog, A Writing Life, called What's the Big Idea. In her post, Katharine Weber writes:
I always have too many ideas. The question for me really isn’t ever Where do you get your ideas so much as How do you identify your best idea?
Katharine writes that sometimes ideas need to be sacrificed:
You have to be able to make decisive choices. Everything in the novel should be necessary to the novel. So for me it is sometimes as much about throwing elements and ideas overboard as it is about finding ideas.

Click on the link above to read have a read of Karathine Weber's post. Have a think about the novel idea that you're working on. Is it strong and compelling enough to keep a reader turning pages? Is it overly complicated; a conglomeration of too many different ideas?


  1. Bernard, thanks for spreading the word on this great post by Katharine Weber. It explained why no one seemed to be as "in love" with my novel as I was. The reason? I was too close to the material.

    It took another year to explore the deeper meaning and develop the universal themes. Now I have a manuscript that is compelling to more than just an audience of one.

    Ginger B.

  2. You're welcome, and thanks for your comment. Knowing whether we have a compelling idea is something we all struggle with, I think.