Run With the Best Idea, Not the First

The Brothers Grimm wrote over two hundred fairy tales, but we mostly remember Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella. Why?

Cinderella wasn’t written any better than the other tales, nor was it promoted any differently (pre-Disney, anyway). Though both craft and promotion are important, neither a blockbuster makes. What truly decides whether your story is read and remembered is the idea. A good idea writes itself, just as a bad ideas limits how well you can apply your craft, how easy it is to market, and how many people are likely to buy it.

There’s over a billion readers worldwide, and you should capture as many as possible. So ask yourself: Does your story tap into primal human emotions like love, fear, revenge, and jealousy? Do you features multiple plot types, like romance, action, drama, or suspense? Do you engage readers in practical, psychological, moral, and spiritual questions? Do you present unique characters with compelling and distinct mindsets? And of course, do all of these threads fit together thematically in a single unified pitch?

To get an idea this good, you can’t just run with the first one you come up with. Doing so is an act of profound delusion. Even if your first idea out of a thousand turns out to be your best, you can’t know that from the start. So before the next book, devote a few weeks to generating hundreds of distinct, interesting pitches. Then choose the one that everyone will want to read, even if it’s outside their genre, and especially if this is the only book they’ll buy this year.