Writing Tip 32: What Should My Novel be About

My most important advice if you don’t take anything away from this post (but I can assure you if you Google this you will find that most authors will tell you) is that write about a topic that you feel comfortable and passionate about writing. In addition to that, whatever you write about should be about a story that you like to read about. Don’t make your story too specific to your needs that no one will pick up your book to read it. It’s a good idea to research the genre and the age group you are targeting to get a good feel about what the reader dynamics wants and are looking for.

These are some tips about ideas that you should tackle when choosing a topic to write

1. Create writing ideas. 

If you don’t already have ideas jotted down, then this is a good time to start making your mind work and venturing off into different topics and creating an outline for those ideas. The outline should have rough details of the characters and a skeleton rough draft of your major plot as a start. This will help you with content, burst of ideas, and get you motivated to continue. Think about the topics that interests you and surround yourself with creativity.

For me, I listen to books while I drive and that gives me ideas of what I should write next. I pause what I’m listening to and voice record my ideas into my phone. This helps me so that I won’t forget what I was thinking about. If recording is not ideal, I would listen to the same book and particularly the part where I got the idea and it will trigger my mind to that idea again because I related what I heard with my idea of what I wanted to write.

Find a source that triggers your imagination such as drawing, music, singing, painting, drawing, museums, fashion, shopping, sports, working out, the outdoors, driving, cooking, gardening, reading or anything that gets your mind wheels turning.

2. Follow your instincts. 

Often times you already had something brewing in your mind but then somehow you doubted yourself either you got distracted or someone told you that the idea you had was not that great. Don’t mind them they probably aren’t avid readers anyway. But if you already created an outline and you believe in your storyline then go for it. Those stories are the best ones to tell since you felt so passionate about it. You should feel deeply connected to the story that you are writing so that your writing can reflect that drive. Otherwise, you’ll be struggling to come up with ideas and you’ll be forced to either put the book down and give up writing or you’ll be adding filler content (which is bad). Don’t over think it and choose the concept that speaks to you.

For example, when I choose my next idea for my next book, I had an outline written for it but then I took it to another place. As I was writing, I stopped and went back to my outline and made the story darker. I was going for something sweet and chirpy but I quickly realized that dark and bloody is my favorite topic to write and read about.

Don’t be afraid of going back to the drawing/idea board.

3. Don’t create the same premise for a book/movie/show that is still trendy and successful.

Writing a story around the same storyline as an epic movie or book can be good or bad. Your story has to be so much better than the original. It has to be a storyline that the author of the original story you are trying to “rewrite” has not thought about. Otherwise, your story will be a dust collector on shelves.

I know there are other stories that have been retold and rewritten but most of them took the concept of an idea and made it their own. Writing something exactly the same or nearly the same as some else’s is a recipe for getting bad reviews and backlash from readers. The plot, subplot, setting, characters, and the dynamics of your writing should breathe originality from the moment you decide to write your story. You need to channel how to be a creative writer by going through the thinking, idea, character development, and plotting phases of writing. Simply copying someone else’s idea is not being creative. Obviously, the tropes of werewolf, vampires, Roman warriors, Greek gods, princesses, and fairytales have been done thousands of times but they are all different in their own way because those authors took a concept and made it their own. Trust your process.

4. Avoid the trend trap.

Trends comes in and out of style faster than you can blink (I’m exaggerating here) but it can be true. Writing a book takes time and dedication. It took me a year to complete my book and I am now in the proofreading phase and promotional phase. It takes other writers years before they finish writing a book and then going through the personal editing and  revising, sending it out for critiquing, waiting, then editing it then revising, having beta readers read portions of it, waiting, then personal editing, and then cover photo choosing, putting the book down for a few weeks to refresh your eyes, another round of personal editing before taking it to a professional, then waiting, then revising what they suggested, then sending it out for formatting, more waiting, then promoting then finally publishing. Notice that the writing part took a year imagine how long does everything else takes. And this was just for authors who are thinking about self-editing imagine authors who want to go the traditional publishing route, Ouch!

Hopefully your book is not a sequel because otherwise now your entire series was based on a trend that died a year or two before you completed your book. Double Ouch!

If you jumped on the trend band wagon only for the sake of readership only to be halfway through your book and not being vested in it because you became bored or uninterested in the topic. Then stop and redirect your writing. Maybe going back to the idea board and finding ways to write what you want to read as oppose to what is trending.

Usually, people who are trend followers are not true to one genre and bounce around a lot between topics and have a hard time focusing on one idea and completing an outline because trends comes and goes. What is hot and popping today may be cold and dull tomorrow. Be a trend setter not a trend follower.

This is why it’s a good idea to stay away from the trend wagon. BUT if you are passionate about the trendy topic then go ahead write about what you’re passionate about.

5. Write what you like to read.

This advice kind of sums up everything in a nutshell. If you like to read about werewolves, fairies, vampires, Greek gods, and Roman warriors then by all means write about them. Be original.

When I wrote The Scarlet Romance, I was reading a lot of books in the romance genre and they more or less had the same concept. Super strong demanding hero and super weak heroine. I was tired of that trope within that genre so I wrote my own take on what I wanted to read. I added romance, family, friendship, drama, sacrifice, suspense, fights, blood, and weapons because those are the things that I am interested in reading about and why not have them in one book or a series of books.

You will become invested in the story and the writing will come easy to you if you write what you want to read. You will promote your book better because you love your story, you wrote what you love to read, and you were passionate about it.

Writing is a personal journey where you will be focusing on your story and thoughts.

Let me know in the comments some of your writing ideas or techniques.

You can read the first three chapters of my book for free here in my website.

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