Tuesday How To: Telling Good Ideas From Bad Ones

Last week, we talked about how to find ideas and how ideas are everywhere. This week we’re going to take it one step further and decide which ideas are good and which ones are bad. I don’t like the term “bad” since there are no bad ideas unless they are not your own. If you are stealing someone else’s idea, word for word, that is bad. Every idea that seems “bad” or overdone, can be made better by changing it, adding or subtracting elements to make it feel like new for both you and your readers.

So let’s talk about good ideas versus ideas that are not so good.

For the sake of explanation, we’re going to use Goldilocks and the Three Bears as our main idea.

Imagine that you are a writer looking for an idea and you read you kid a bedtime story that just happens to be Goldilocks and the Three Bears. So, like we talked about last week, you’re reading and an idea strikes.

You want to write a story about Goldilocks and the Three bears. If you copy it directly, that is plagiarism, and thst is a huge mistake. So now the question becomes how do you make the idea new and fresh from the original idea?

You can do three things. You can add to the idea, subtract from the idea, move it to a different setting, or change the perspective.

Adding to the Idea
When you add to the original idea, you pull information from elsewhere and add it to your idea. For instance, if we use Goldilocks and the Three Bears say we add another character, Goldilocks’ boyfriend who doesn’t believe in Bears, now we have a story. And a new conflict. It suddenly becomes interesting for the reader. They wonder what will happen when Goldilocks and her boyfriend meet the bears.

Subtract from the Idea
Subtracting from the idea does the same as adding to it, instead of adding from somewhere else, you take away from the story. For our pal Goldilocks and her bears, that would mean taking away an aspect of the story. Let’s take away the bears’ house. What this does to the story is makes it harder for Goldilocks to break in, harder to find things that fit her, and completely changes the story, making the story new and fresh.

Move the Story to a Different Setting
Moving the story to a different setting changes the entire story most of the time. Though, if the characters are not in their same setting, they can have different motives and goals. Say we move Goldilocks and the Bears to New York City. The need to find things that fit is no longer there. Goldilocks can just go to the store and find what fits her. So why break into the bears’ house at all? Perhaps Goldilocks is a thief and needs a place to hide from the police? See, the plot becomes interesting again, and fresh.

Change the Perspective
Changing point of views is one of the easiest and most used ways of changing the idea and making it fresh again. Since the original fairytale is in the third person, we could change it to any of the other perpectives, it doesn’t even gave to be a human (or bear) perspective. Let’s say we change the perspective to the house. How would that change the story? Or if we made it Baby Bear’s perspective? Each point of view has different information than the others, and more opportunity for change and excitement.

Whatever you do improve your ideas, make them more interesting and not as overused, Have fun with it!

Think about any one of your ideas, how can you expand it or make it better?

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