herlit11's picture
herlit11 September 15, 2014 - 8:04am

Hi, guys

Do you in any way rate or evaluate your stories or ideas before writing or when you're done with them?

How do you tell which ideas are worth writing and have selling potential and what's the best way to write them?

I have an incomplete questionare that I use once in a while:

I this unique enough? Is this familiar? Shows unique characters with goals? High stakes?

What about you?

Best

Hernán

 

 

 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami September 15, 2014 - 1:05pm

I rate them for the potential to get a novella out of them. With 33 short stories written, I think I'm ready to move on to novels. 

Of course a character chart and a plot outline does help.

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics September 15, 2014 - 2:20pm

I hate to assign values to my stories before I've written them, even though that's a hard aspect of human nature to avoid. Once written, I assign them value by a scale that gives one thumb up if it makes at least one person in the first five to read it want to cry - and two thumbs if it makes at least one person in the first five actually cry.

Of course, this scale only works if you're not writing children's books or comedy.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami September 15, 2014 - 3:30pm

Actually some of my favorite children's books were actually pretty dark. I'm not sure about crying, but I know Dahl wasn't actually cheery.:/

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon September 16, 2014 - 1:19am

No, I don't try to rate my stories before I write them because I'm just awful at evaluating my stories even after they're finished. Also, I don't usually have it all mapped out ahead of time so no telling what I'll actually end up with. I wait and see what my critiquer thinks. Lately my stories have seemed too tame after they're done, though. I think I'll re-read them and try to use what I have as a start and give them a dramatic or bizarre addition to the story problem. So, yeah, for me the rating comes after I have a draft of the story done.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) September 17, 2014 - 5:00am

The only question I tend to ask myself before I start a story is, do I think I'll finish it? If not, I put it on the backburner and go with something I do think I'll finish. I don't think I've ever evaluated an idea based on whether or not I would be able to sell it.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore September 17, 2014 - 11:32am

I just keep a document with a list of one-sentence story ideas (loglines), and shift the best ones to the top. Originality's usually the deciding factor because so many of them have been done already. The stakes and conflict are built into the idea when I first wrote it down, having probably been what inspired it.

Then I rarely look back at that list, because if I have an idea I'm excited about, I tend to write its story, and the ones on the list feel pretty "meh" to me.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 17, 2014 - 8:28pm

I keep a folder of loglines and outlines.  I write the one I feel I'll do the best job with and / or will be fun.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 20, 2014 - 1:57pm

I've heard it said (by professionals who make lots of money at this) that ideas are cheap, what really matters is how well you pull it off. 

Apparently, an author named Jim Butcher, to make a point, offered to write a good story about anything another wannabe author came up with in order to prove that ideas were cheap, or whatever. The other guy said 'okay fine, write one about pokemon and the lost roman legion.'

Jim Butcher came up with The Codex of Alera. It's a NY Times Best Seller.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Alera

Anyway, apparently, it's not so much what you do, but how well you do it.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like September 20, 2014 - 3:33pm

"Ideas" aren't just the so-called "high concept" of a story or two basic prompts. Think of all the other "ideas" involved in a six-book series. In other words, if these two basic concepts (pokemon & lost roman legion) count as "ideas", then there are a tremendous number of other "ideas" involved in these books. There would have to be unless they really are crappy books. So he either didn't limit himself to the two ideas, or he used others and didn't really prove anything (except that he can write stuff which will sell, which was not in doubt).

Jake Leroy's picture
Jake Leroy from Kansas City is reading Jesus' Son, by Denis Johnson, and Hot Water Music, by Charles Bukowski September 20, 2014 - 8:43pm

Sometimes I have a story idea right out if the box that I know will be good and it gushes from me. Other times I have to work to extract the truth from the idea. By the time I'm done with a completed rough draft I'll know if I've accomplished what I set out to do, even though I may still have many revisions ahead of me to get all the words right. Sometimes the story isn't ready to be finished, so it remains a work in progress.

I never evaluate selling potential before I'm finished with a story. If a story is sellable on an indivudual basis I usually know it after the rough draft. A story has to really make me feel or think something profoundly. I don't submit a story unless I feel this way. When I do, My hit rate in selling them is about 70%

It is important that you identify markets where your best stories fit well and find as many of those markets as you can. It's a numbers game.

I have 3 categories of completed stories: Not good enough, good enough, and commercial.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 20, 2014 - 10:10pm

"Ideas" aren't just the so-called "high concept" of a story or two basic prompts. Think of all the other "ideas" involved in a six-book series. In other words, if these two basic concepts (pokemon & lost roman legion) count as "ideas", then there are a tremendous number of other "ideas" involved in these books. There would have to be unless they really are crappy books. So he either didn't limit himself to the two ideas, or he used others and didn't really prove anything (except that he can write stuff which will sell, which was not in doubt).

Well, it demonstrates that even with something that starts ridiculous, or as a not-so-good idea (seemingly), if you're good at what you do, it can turn out good.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like September 21, 2014 - 11:20am

Pokemon has sold tons of stuff for like twenty years. How is that a "not-so-good idea" by pop/commercial standards?

The guy who accepted the challenge offered too lenient and open conditions. It should have been something like, "Okay, write a good novel set in a world where microwave ovens can only uncook food. This premise must not be merely mentioned in passing, instead it must figure into the plot throughout the novel. There can be no other direct inversions of contemporary technologies, nor can there be any characters from a world in which microwave ovens operate according to real-life physical mechanisms," or something really stupid like that, not just "make a kids show into something people over ten can enjoy."