If you're like me, you are constantly bombarded with ideas for books. They come in the middle of supper and at the stop light and in the shower. Ideas are everywhere. I catalog them all in my Idea Notebook, but not every idea can be a book. Life really is too short.
So how to winnow the idea list? I use a GO folder.
It's green (of course). It's nothing special – just pockets and grommets.
Inside I keep the following:
Logline formulas, like Luke's:
sets out to [achieve a goal]
but runs into [unexpected or sometimes ironic obstacle]
and must [grow in a way to triumph or face certain doom]
Beat Sheet from SAVE THE CAT
Plot & Character Worksheet (happy to share, if anyone wants to see what I use... just email me irene at irenelatham dot com to request the PDF)
I take my idea – often more of a premise, i.e., “boy who lives at the zoo” – and put it through these paces to determine if I do, in fact, have a book. Sometimes I'll create several loglines, just playing around. I do the same thing with the Beat Sheet and then move forward with the one that feels most compelling. Then I apply the Plot & Character worksheet, and if I'm still interested, still excited, I start a writing regimen of 1000 words a day (my standard writing diet).
Six to eight weeks later, voila! I've got a first draft. *Easy as pie.
*Sorry. That last sentence is a complete lie. But really, what good does it do anyone to think about how difficult something is?
If I can do this, you can do this.
GO, baby, GO!