Is My Novel Idea Worth Writing? 5 Ways to Tell!

All writers, at some point or another, will face this debilitating dilemma:

I have an idea for a novel! But is it worth writing?

If you’ve taken my Develop Blockbuster Ideas that Sell Online Course, you know that a strong idea for a novel is just as important as how well the novel is written. Because without a compelling idea, readers will never pick up the book to read it!

And since you don’t want to get halfway through writing your novel and realize that your novel idea wasn’t, in fact, worth writing, I’ve come up with this handy checklist to help you decide if the novel idea you have is worth the effort. Or, if you have more than one novel idea, hopefully, this checklist will help you choose which one to focus on. 

This checklist is especially handy for NaNoWriMo participants trying to decide which novel idea to tackle this November! 

1) Can you identify the primary source of conflict that will continue throughout the entire story? 

We all know conflict is uber important in storytelling. If your hero has no problems then you have no story. But what is the PRIMARY source of conflict for your main character? Meaning, what main “issue” or “problem” or “enemy” will not get completely resolved until the very end? If you can identify that up front, you’ll have an easier time maintaining momentum throughout the entire writing process. 

2) Does your hero have a flaw that is somehow linked to the premise of your novel?

It’s my belief that the best stories feature heroes who are perfectly matched with the plot of the story. Meaning the hero NEEDS this plot to better themselves. If your hero’s flaw is that they can’t commit to anything, then the premise of the novel should organically play on that fear of commitment and force them to face it. Figuring out your hero’s primary flaw and how your novel idea addresses that flaw will assure you don’t stray too far off track on your writing journey. 

3) Is there an opportunity for your hero to feel like a “fish out of water?” 

Readers love to read about heroes who have to step out of their comfort zones and confront new and interesting things that they may not be prepared for. I find that the novel ideas that are “smoothest” to write are the ones that have a built-in “fish out of water” element. Like a spoiled teen heiress who has to work 52 low-wage jobs (52 Reasons to Hate My Father), a Harvard professor on the run from the law (The Davinci Code), a lowly mapmaker thrust into the world of the magical elite (Shadow and Bone). Identifying this element early on in the novel-planning process will ensure you never run out of inspiration for good scenes. 

4) Can you describe the idea in one sentence? 

Although this is not a necessity, I find that until I can distill my ideas down into one compelling sentence, I don’t exactly know what the idea is. And once that sentence is fully-formed in my mind, I find that’s when the story is “easiest” to write. It may seem counterintuitive but sometimes we don’t know what we have on our hands until we can condense it down into its simplest form. So play around with your idea and see if you can’t get to the heart of it in 1-2 dynamic sentences. It will help you, the writer, better discern what you’re actually sitting down to write about. 

5) Are you EXCITED to write it? 

This is arguably the most important element of a good novel idea. Does the idea inspire you? Does it keep you up at night? Do you have to keep a pen and paper nearby because of all the ideas that are pouring out you? Are you itching to open that blank document and start typing? If the answer is yes, then you are well on your way, my friend. Just remember that feeling when you’re halfway through and feeling drained and stuck and hopeless. Better yet, take a few moments NOW, before you start writing, to jot down WHY you’re excited about this idea and what inspires you to write it. That way, when you hit that inevitable brick wall, you’ll have something to refer back to and remind you of why you started this process in the first place!


Want to learn the four ingredients that make up EVERY great book or movie idea? Check out all my online course Develop Blockbuster Ideas that Sell!

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