Whether you are a plotter (someone who preps their story ahead of time), a pantser (someone who writes as they create), or a plantser (a mix of the two!), there comes a time when the idea for a novel might pop into your head, and you wonder whether it has the legs to be something you want to write. Well, what do you do in that situation? I’ll tell you – you test your novel idea.
Your first question might not be ‘how’, but rather ‘who with?’ – that’s a great question, by the way. Who do you test your novel idea with? You could do this with yourself (Is this something you would read, is it something you really want to write, is it a novel that interests you further than the initial thought?), or with your ideal reader. If you need a hand working out who your ideal reader is, check out this blog post all about it: Your Ideal Reader
Once you have decided that you would like to test the idea with yourself or your friend who happens to love the genre of novel you’re thinking about, it’s time to think about three ways to test your idea:
1: Write your synopsis ahead of writing the novel.
Writing a synopsis before writing a novel is a great way to test an idea. It means that you can share what looks like a finished product and really think about how you want it to be once completed. Not sure how to write a synopsis? Read on.
Writing a synopsis is a class that I teach in my Novel Writing Masterclass – It’s Time to Write Your Novel, but I wanted to give you a little freebie here because I know that other people struggle with this area too.
So – let’s break it down together. Here are the steps I recommend for writing a synopsis:
1) Write down plot points in the order of events.
2) Write the first paragraph – set up the premise and write a clear description of the world and scenario you have created.
3) Connect your plot points by describing your character’s growth.
4) Tell us the ending.
5) Re-read for editing.
Ideally, this should be no more than 1000 words.
Follow those steps, and you should find it much easier to write your synopsis!
2: Ask yourself some probing questions.
Try asking yourself the following four questions if you’re looking for something less in-depth than writing a synopsis. These will help you visualise your plot, deliver it as a complete idea, and communicate what you want your novel to be.
What is your main character’s problem, the conflict they are dealing with?
What is their drive to overcome this?
Who or what is standing in their way?
Why does it matter?
3: Write an elevator pitch.
So, how can you whittle down your novel idea to an elevator pitch? Keep it short, sweet, and understandable. For example:
I have written TITLE, a GENRE novel of WORD COUNT. PROTAGONIST lives in SETTING and faces CONFLICT. How the protagonist overcomes conflict, including the antagonist, but not usually tertiary characters.
Another fun way to challenge yourself is to develop a 140 character pitch as they did for Pitch Wars!
Here’s my 140 character pitch for The Birth of Ida:
𝐓𝐡𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐚 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐰𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐞, 𝐈𝐝𝐚 𝐕𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐝𝐫𝐚𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫’𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡.
So, there are three ways to test your novel idea before writing a word of it! Do you have any to add? Let me know how you get on and don’t forget to get in touch if you need a hand.
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