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How to find an idea for a novel?

Hello writers! When looking to come up with an idea for a novel , authors often face two problems:

  • either they are out of ideas
  • either they have too much and we need to channel these ideas

Generally, the wrong solution is to take the idea that interests you the most without evaluating whether it is viable. The result is a waste of time. Several chapters written only to finally realize that the story is going nowhere.

What I’m offering you is a three-step method for finding book ideas that work.

Find the theme of your novel

To find a book idea, you have to understand one thing. A good story is the author’s point of view on a theme (revenge, love, etc.). Therefore, to find a good idea for a novel, you need to find a theme that speaks to you.

To do this, you can take inspiration from:

  • the news
  • writing prompts (these are free writing ideas)
  • films, books, comics/manga, etc.
  • from real life
  • book writing services

However, it’s not enough to find inspiration, you also need to find a viable novel idea.

Find an idea for a novel that holds water

To find a good idea for a book, you need to list current events and works that you like. Then start playing around with these ideas by asking yourself who is suffering and in relation to whom. Generally, there are three areas to study:

  • suffering in relation to society
  • suffering in relationships with others
  • internal suffering (guilt, remorse, crushing, narcissism, etc.)

The idea is to identify a problem to solve and develop it. Edouard Blanchot also speaks of setting up a “dramatic arena”. That is to say to put in place all the elements allowing you to fully express your theme.

For example, if you want to talk about pacifism, your theme will have more resonance if the starting point of your story takes place in a violent environment.

In short, to find a viable idea for a novel, you must take a theme, subdivide it into several sub-themes (societal violence, relational violence, internal violence) and this will give you areas to address in your book. If an idea breaks down poorly into subtopics, it’s a sign that you need to change your mind or do more research on the topic.

Novel idea and dramatic arc

If you understand correctly, finding an idea for a novel means finding a theme. Theme that you will then develop into a story. To do this, we must understand that the story constitutes the story of a character.

At the beginning of the book, your character has an internal defect that ruins his life. This defect can be conscious or unconscious. In dramaturgy, we speak of a “memoir writer”. This defect constitutes the opposite of the theme you want to express.

For example, if your theme is pacifism, your hero’s fatal flaw will be being violent.

Little by little, because of the obstacles he will encounter, your hero will have to change. His transformation will take place until the moment of climax where he will embody your theme. So, to take the example of pacifism, if at the beginning your hero is violent, he will gradually become peaceful.

To summarize, finding an idea for a novel means finding a theme that you will develop to test your protagonist. The latter may or may not succeed in overcoming his fatal flaw (this is the case with dramas). If an idea does not allow you to develop a fatal flaw then you need to change your idea or do more research around your idea.


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