• complete your development questions checklist

Okay, so you now have a solid idea, one that has the promise to be potential developed into a full novel.

But we’re not quite in the clear yet. Take that hand off the hyperdrive lever! There will be time to fly into writing very soon.

For now, though, we need to develop this idea of yours a little.

Why? Well, because at this stage EVERY possibility is on the table – we can seed so many conflicts and flaws and exciting settings and worlds – but only if we refrain from starting to write.

Once we begin to write our book, the malleable stage of idea generation begins to solidify, and righty so. To write, we need to know our characters inside out, we need to know the rules of our world, we need to know what we’re aiming for, and what is going to get in the way. This is all solid stuff.

We want, for now, to stay in the malleable stage, and really develop and stretch this idea to its limits. Let’s push things and get the very most out of your story idea.

Developing your idea

By the stage, you will have a list of ideas, which you have whittled down to one or two that you feel have all the elements mentioned in Week 2.

Now, we need to develop those answers into something more coherent than just a ‘yes, I have all the elements.’ We now need to expand upon them, to make sure they truly do have the potential to get us through a 300 page novel (or however long it ends up being!).

A recap of the key elements:

  • main character(s)
  • with a clear aim/goal/want
  • and an emotional need
  • and/or a flaw/fear to overcome
  • world/setting (ideally with inherent conflict)
  • forces of antagonism that will cause conflict
  • theme/lesson for our main character
ElementDevelopment QuestionsResponses
Main Character(s) (MCs)Who are they? Why them and not someone else? How are they interesting? Do they have any admirable qualities/skills that will help/hinder them? What has happened to them in their life to bring them to this point (the start of the story)? What one thing is unimaginable for them to do at the start?
Clear aim/goal/wantUsually an external objective. Something that will drive every action and reaction from your MC in the book. What is this? How would they feel if they didn’t get it? How will their live change if they do get it? Why does it mean so much to them?
Emotional needUsually an internal objective – often they don’t know they need it. What is it? Why is it lacking in their life? How will it change them if they get this? How will it affect them if they don’t get this emotional need?
Flaw/Fear to overcomeWhat is their fear/flaw? Where did this originate? How does it manifest in the MC? How do they avoid/hide it? What is the very worst thing they could face?
World/SettingWhat is the inherent conflict in this world/setting? How does it work against our MC?
Forces of AntagonismWho/what are these? Why are they in conflict with our MC?
Theme/LessonWhat is the overall theme/lesson of this story? Your answers above will help you answer this, but it’s the message that will resonate, consciously or unconsciously, within your readers mind when they put the book down.

So hopefully by this point, we’re now developing a nicely rounded and deeper idea. We’re almost ready to write a premise and pitch, now we have most of the elements in place.

It’s time to work!

Download (or copy if that’s your jam!) the table above, and complete it, trying to answer all of these questions – the more you answer, the deeper you’ll drill into your story and the more benefit you will gain later on.

So don’t shirk the questions – if you find you’re struggling to answer a few, that’s fine, but do put it down for a day or two, have a think and come back to answer them all.

If you really can’t answer many of the questions, we need to start questioning if this idea has the legs. And actually, I’d argue we can grow those legs if they’re not there initially, so keep thinking, keep germinating, keep dwelling on those questions and develop that idea!

Ready for Week 3? Click here.

Are you still struggling with ideas?

Why not sign up for our tutored course, WriteStart, perfect for those at this stage, looking to get an idea and develop it with the help our brilliant Costa Award Shortlisted tutor, Jenny Pearson.