Evaluating Ideas after StoryStorm 2020

This is the third year I have completed Tara Lazarre’s StoryStorm Challenge to generate 30 new story ideas (one a day) in the month of January. Though Tara’s challenge is focused primarily on picture books, I use the month to generate ideas for board books, non-fiction, young fiction and even MG and the odd YA – I don’t judge, who knows what opportunities might arise in 2020 – but around 80% are always solid PB ideas.

Screenshot 2020-02-04 at 21.15.28

At the beginning of February, I load all my ideas into an idea database (see previous post) – so I don’t forget where I jotted them all down, to see what I’ve got – 56 this year, I’m pleased with that.

Before I list the ideas I think have potential, I take a look at the patterns in my creative thinking.

  • Five board books (that could also be picture books) – that’s new.
  • Ten illustrated non-fiction books, one of which could be a series – more this year than last.
  • Six junior fiction (four of which could scale up to chapter book/MG)
  • No YA this year.
  • The majority of my ideas had a child as the MC, which is more than any previous year.
  • There are more stories ideas with heart/ hugs than humour at their core. I hope I haven’t lost my funny bone. Maybe it’s a sign of the times.
  • I have a thing about pets, it’s fertile ground and ever popular, but maybe I feel guilty because we don’t have one, so I write them into our home!
  • I always come up with a new whodunnit but haven’t written one yet.
  • There’s lots of ideas around the natural world, both protecting it and enjoying it.
  • Not a lot of magic or fairy tales – more about emotions, individuality and standing up for oneself – perhaps I’m locking on to market trends.
  • Only the odd inanimate object brought to life (fortunately!)

I have a good 15 or so ideas I think are unique (or have a unique take on a popular theme) and I don’t already have something like it in my portfolio.

So which ones should I write?

I’ve learnt that a winning story has a lot of strings to its bow, so I need a way of analysing them as dispassionately as possible.

woman in blue shirt holding lighted string of lights

Photo by Kha Ruxury on Pexels.com

Down the page I list my story idea titles, and across the top of the page I type headers: Original idea. Title. Hook. Strong MC. Stakes. Emotion. Creative language potential. Child appeal. Parent Appeal. Teacher appeal. Series. International. Promo link. (e.g Christmas or World Book day.)

I mark each story idea against each of these criteria – marking 1, 2, or a 3 if the concept really has the potential to nail it, and then I use the Excel ‘Sort’ function to rank the  totals.

Some story ideas don’t do as well as I thought they would, which may just mean they need more creative thinking time, so I won’t discount them, I’ll let them brew for a bit.

The top five, however do standout – they all have important universal themes – and are going to take some serious research, structuring and word trickery to pull off.

Perhaps that in itself is a lesson – if an idea ticks all the boxes – I have to sweat the hard stuff – in the end, those stories are more likely to receive attention and less likely to be written by someone else – well, at least not all of them.

3 comments on “Evaluating Ideas after StoryStorm 2020

  1. Hi Kate Love all of your Adventures in Fiction. You are producing lots of ideas and I look forward to reading them. My writing is going well (whisper it) and I am able to write most days. Best wishes Chrissy x

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  2. I did Tara Lazar’s Story Storm too. I came up with 34 ideas. Your ideas for evaluating potential stories are really good. Thank you for sharing them here. All the best with your writing!

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  3. Hello Kate…salut!
    I love your blogs – especially this one. I too have signed up to the next 30 day challenge and hope that I might be as extraordinarily as productive as you!
    Much love xxx
    Serena

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