Sometimes you just have to admit when an idea isn’t working #amwriting #writingcommunity #writingtips

I generally like to think I have the hang of putting a plot together. I’ve published eighteen novels, a writing guide, writing courses, hundreds of short stories and more than a dozen serials.

Recently, though, for the first time in years, I gave up on an idea (though I termed it ‘putting it on the back burner’ because that sounds less defeatist than ‘gave up’). I wrestled with it in a large notebook and a small notebook. I printed out what I had and made notes on it. I cut bits out of a notebook and tried to force some kind of order and spark into the operation. I even wrote with different coloured pens.


What had seemed like a great idea on Sunday was dead by Tuesday, even though I had what seemed like some promising elements:

  • A setting – Malta, one of my favourite places in the world
  • conflicts
  • a past issue between hero and heroine (not always necessary but often helpful)
  • sympathetic characters (designed for readers to like)
  • unsympathetic characters (who readers will probably curl their lips at)
  • secondary characters
  • a pivotal character (again not vital but I like to recognise when there’s a character without whom the plot wouldn’t work)
  • appropriate careers for hero and heroine
  • a contemporary issue to shine a light on

…but the idea didn’t ‘work’.

So, what went wrong? I think I had a list, not a plot. If a plot is a map through a story, mine had no roads – just the places, and nothing to link them. It feels like a pretty rookie error that I forgot my own first principle – make the conflicts of hero and heroine in some way impact upon one another. Make him want to develop a property and her have reason to try and stop the development; or have them both want to help an elderly character but have opposing views on how to do it. In other words, make sure they have a stake in each other’s story.

I didn’t start in the wrong place in my story, I started in the wrong place in my planning.

Not every writer plans, but I do. My planning is often haphazard, the method varies from book to book, but, as I’ve just found out, it’s important to get it right.

Luckily – I have another idea to work on, so I think I’ll just get on with that.

If you liked this post you may also like:

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Chapter Two and beyond

Final Chapter(s) and (possible) Epilogue 

Act, react and interact – breathing life into my characters

My plotty head, Fiction Land and my dad

Descriptive writing

Learn about publishing

Agent or no agent?

Sue Moorcroft’s recipe for a short story


Filed under Authors, Malta., Plotting, readers, reading, Sue Moorcroft, Writers, writing, writing tip

3 responses to “Sometimes you just have to admit when an idea isn’t working #amwriting #writingcommunity #writingtips

  1. I feel your pain…but you’re right to ‘put it on the back burner’. I’m sure you’ll have another wrapped up pretty quickly x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lizzie Lamb

    Reblogged this on Lizzie Lamb – author and commented:
    Some great writing tips here from Sue Moorcroft. I found it very enlightening and helpful.


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