Across the globe, ideas are popping into the heads of new writers. However, fresh to their role and beset by doubt and naysayers, they wonder: are their ideas worth investing time into?
Writing forums, workshop groups and Discord servers are brimming with new writers throwing out the question, “Is this a good idea?” and seeking approval from strangers for their nascent wisps of work.
This is a basic mistake, asking for validation of an idea that hasn't really been fully formed yet.
This article aims to help new writers come to terms with their ideas and put to bed the idea that you need permission.
A great worry for new writers is whether their ideas are original or not.
Let me put you at ease. A lot of story ideas have been done before.
Now, don’t be disheartened. This takes off a lot of the pressure.
Your story isn’t instantly unoriginal simply because it features a damsel in distress or a hero questing to save his country, either by killing the monstrous threat or finding the McGuffin that can end all problems. It’s the way you tell the story that really counts.
The way you, as a writer, tell your story is what creates diversity between your work and other stories that have come before. There will be elements of your story that have been influenced by the media you have consumed and that's perfectly fine.
The real opportunities for a writer to create originality are setting, characterisation, subversion and storytelling style.
Taking inspiration doesn't mean stealing ideas from other works. It means building on fundamental ideas that have already been expressed. Stories have been told throughout human history for thousands of years, so a lot of ground has been covered!
Some well-known examples include:
- Jason and the Argonauts [20th Century]
- Ben Hur [19th Century]
- Spartacus [Ancient Roman]
- The Epic of Gilgamesh [Ancient Sumerian]
- Hercules/Heracles [Ancient Roman/Ancient Greek]
- Of Mice and Men [20th Century]
- The Tragedy of Macbeth [17th Century]
- Tale of Two Brothers [Ancient Egyptian]
There is a near limitless list of stories in the world which you, as a writer, can draw inspiration from. Some are true accounts from the ancient world, well before our time. Others are more recent and works of fiction.
However, when you strip all stories back to their core, there really aren’t that many different basic plot structures.
In the last ten years, society has become more proactive in ensuring people are not offended by what is said and done.
Whilst this is commendable it has somewhat stifled the creative thought process in such a way that many writers are now afraid of freely shaping their ideas into fully fledged stories.
Writers, don't be afraid.
You don't need permission to turn your ideas into stories. Art is the expression of human culture and writing is included.
Your story can be about anything you want it to be; you are the architect. Instead of worrying and asking “Is this a good idea?”, instead work on your idea and turn it into a story.
When you have a story, share it with the world.
What I want from you, dear reader, is to realise that you are the creator of your own ideas.
You are also the stoker and the conductor. You are the one who makes the frame and attaches the walls. Don't be afraid to take your ideas and turn them into stories.
To answer your question from earlier, your ideas are neither good nor bad. They are ideas.
Turn them into something we can read.
Did you enjoy that? Why not try one of these next:
- Story Tropes: Outdated or Essential?
- How to increase your odds of getting picked up by a publisher
- Block-Busting: Writing exercises for breaking writer's block (Part 3)
- Self-Publishing: Should you go narrow or wide?
- Log in and start writing
Cover image: Arek Socha from Pixabay