How You Can Make Your Writing Idea Work

by | Writing | 4 comments

“I had a terrific idea this morning, but I didn’t like it.” — Samuel Goldwyn


Problem: Have you searched for an idea for writing a blog post, article, or story? I have. Have you come up with nothing? I have. Or have you disliked the idea you came up with? Bingo!

Here’s what happened when I decided to practice what I preached. I used the brainstorming method I posted in: Brainstorming: Make Your Worst Idea the Most Unique Solution. I hope my experience helps you.

Finding the idea:

I jotted every phrase that popped into my head for a list of 30 ideas. After perusing the ideas, true to the method, I selected the worst idea: carved roast beef.

Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at

Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at

Carved roast beef? I stared at the phrase and then returned to the list, hoping I’d see a worse idea, because carved roast beef was like having no idea. But I’d said the method worked, and I had to be true to my claim.

So, I did the second step. I put aside my need and simply brainstormed things connected to carved roast beef: rare, slices, aroma, seasoned outer crust, etc.

I closed my brainstorming notebook. The challenge tired me. I needed to get downstairs to my grandchildren whom my husband and I were to babysit for a couple of days. Through the day, my stomach sunk a little more each time I thought of my challenge. I reminded myself to trust God.

MP900387863After two days babysitting, my younger grandson asked me to read Creepy Carrots!, words by Aaron Reynolds and pictures by Peter Brown. This book is a Caldecott Honor Book. I thought, what an off-the-wall idea, and it worked! No wonder it received the Caldecott honor. So fresh, so unique, and a great twist to the ending. This is what a book needs, whether a children’s book or an adult book. Pop! I had my idea for my blog post. Thank you, Lord.

A great story is like carved roast beef.

(Vegetarians and vegans, I apologize.)

I realized a Carved Roast Beef could offer a word picture for ensuring I wrote a great story:

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at

  • The rarer the story idea the better.
  • Like the pleasing aroma and taste of seasoned crusts on either end of a roast, the story beginning and ending should delight readers to read on and to close the book satisfied.
  • The scenes between the beginning and end are like succulent slices of roast beef revealing meaty events of the plot all the way through. Each a work of art in itself.

Then, I could encourage my blog readers to pick up a book on the craft of writing to help them serve up a tasty story for their readers. I could list my favorites:

  • Hooked by Les Edgerton
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
  • Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
  • From the Inside…Out by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck
  • Kiss and Tell by Susan May Warren

Okay, so this is the story post within the how-to-make-your-idea-work post. The question I’d like to see answers to is:

Why did the last great book you read delight you?

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American Christian Fiction Writers

American Christian Fiction Writers

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  1. Brandy Heineman

    Oh, I don’t know how many times I have gotten halfway through a blog post and decided I didn’t like my main idea….

    The last great book I read was The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck. I loved how she used the wedding imagery so prevalent in Scripture and weaved a beautiful story around it.

  2. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Brandy, I enjoyed The Wedding Dress, also. It was good imagery. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Kiersti

    The last great book I read was probably Secrets (and its sequel, Unforgotten) by Kristen Heitzmann. I’d never read any of her novels before, but the characters in these were so incredibly well developed I thought of the book by the names of the main characters rather than the title! They were just so real. The settings were incredibly well drawn to, such that I think back to Sonoma and the Bronx–all infused with Italy–whenever I think of the stories.
    What a fun post! Thank you, Zoe. 🙂

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Kiersti, Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann was a page turner, wasn’t it. I read Unforgotten, too. Your mention of well developed characters and setting and Brandy’s mention of great imagery makes me want to go back through the book I’m working on and develop these more. Thanks for these great examples.

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