Do you have a concept for your story? Do you know what a concept is? It isn’t an idea… that is merely the seed that may sprout into a concept. It may help you to phrase your concept as a ‘what if’ statement. If it is a strong concept, this what if statement should trigger other what if questions that will help you develop your story.
A strong concept will trigger lots of questions that your story will strive to answer. This branching of story will keep your action flowing and your characters busy. Let’s try an example.
What if a powerful organization was planning to make it appear that the world is really ending on the date a prophet has predicted so they could expand their power worldwide?
What can we do with this concept? Does it bring up more questions? Let’s see.
What if our hero discovers the plot?
What if no one wants to listen to him or her in the growing fear and paranoia?
What if the government is supporting this organization because they’ve been bribed?
What if he or she finds a way that could bring down this organization?
What if our hero finally finds one congress member who believes them and is willing to go out on a limb and help?
See what I mean? Your concept question should inspire more what ifs that will keep your story building and growing.
If you find yourself stuck on this point, your idea may not be ready to be a story, or it may not be worth spending time on. That is up to you to decide.
Your concept is very important. Like location, location, location, concept is something you really need to keep in mind. It could very well give you success or failure, depending on how strong it is. Don’t be afraid to spend some time working on your concept. While it may come first for many writers, you may find you have your characters first, and need to find a concept that suits them. Either way, don’t skimp on the concept.
Concepts may vary from genre to genre, but they should still be captivating and create more of those fascinating what if questions.