We writers are bombarded with ideas and story concepts quite routinely. Something triggers off those brain cells and we go, “Aha! This is what I would like to write next.” Happens all the time, doesn’t it? But it is when (and if) we actually start writing it that the problems begin to rear their heads. You might think writer’s block, but there are many more perils in store. The fear whether the book will be sold or not is another idea for those who don’t write just for hobby.
I have formulated a checklist that I guess we must all adhere to before we start converting our grainy idea into the masterpiece we all aspire for. These are what we must absolutely ensure ourselves of.
Who is the book for?
Before you start writing, detach yourself from the awesomeness of the idea for a while and think for whom you are writing the book. Do you envision people who might like to read what you are writing? This is important if you are writing for public consumption. But, of course, if you are writing for yourself, then it does not matter.
Will you be able to build characters, scenes, etc. within the plot structure?
Your idea is amazing, no doubt, but you cannot just go on with the idea. You will have to build interesting characters to go with it, create scenes that keep people turning pages, build a momentum to the story. Outlining helps. Prepare a story outline around the idea and see if it works.
What is the contemporary status of such a topic?
It helps if there is a buzz on the theme you are writing. Now, I am not telling you should be a copycat and steal a popular theme, but it pays to know the readers’ world out there. If you put your own spin on a popular concept, it can work, because people will associate it with the popular idea.
Are you qualified to write the story?
This is absolutely necessary if you are writing in specific genres like, say, science fiction. Now, you may have an interesting one-liner science fiction plot in your head, like cellphones taking over the world, but to actually create a story, you will need to intersperse it with several details. Are you conversant enough with the subject matter to do that justice? Most experts would tell you to write something pertaining to your own field of expertise, but I would not tell you that. Rather, I would tell you to write in the field you are able to do justice to. If you want to write a science fiction story, and are prepared to do the right amount of research, go ahead by all means.
Do you have enough material to build a plot?
Most one-liner ideas sound amazing, but you have to build a whole world around the plot. Read lists of things on the Internet, people’s experiences, articles, etc. and build a solid bank of things you could include in your yarn. Do not start writing when you have only a sketchy outline in your mind; this is the best way to invite a writer’s block ahead.
Is there any research you will need to do, and how will you do it?
Almost all books require research, even if you are writing an autobiography. You need to be sure of those pesky details that critics will look into quite minutely. With the Internet, research has become easier, but the human touch is needed at times. For instance, if you are writing about some medical condition, it would be best to get in touch with people who have gone through the situation. Google doesn’t answer everything. Visiting dedicated social networking groups help. There are many groups on Facebook for almost everything. Hanging out with these people virtually, and then probably physically, will help you a great deal.
How will you promote the book?
A writer’s most difficult journey begins when the book is completed. That’s absolutely true, because you aren’t writing for yourself. You have to get your book out there. Make sure of that. Brace yourself for being part of promotional activities, which you will have to do yourself most of the time.
What is the competition out there for such books?
Are there too many books on the subject that you have chosen? If yes, then it won’t be a good idea to write more on it, unless you have something truly different to say and you are able to market it in that manner. But, you can follow popular genres. Horror and thrillers always work, so does romance and at times fantasy if it is really well-written. If you have your genre in mind, then read books from other famous authors to get a feel of what people like.
What will your readers gain from reading your book?
Ask whether you are able to give a fulfilling experience to your readers. If they are going to spend their time and effort reading your work, you better do that, or you will be just another name that could not pass muster as a writer.