Can a bad idea make a good story?

Of course! At least I think any idea can make a good story.

Because are there really any bad ideas? Or just bad execution?

We all have that one friend who when they start with, “Let me tell you…,” we cringe. Yet a different friend can call, and we can’t wait to hear the ending of “Let me tell you…” Because this person will leave us laughing or crying.

What’s the difference? One is dry as dust with the telling, and another is entertaining.

A few weeks ago I posted about fleshing out ideas. But I was assuming the idea was a good one.

But what if your idea doesn’t sound all that good to other people? What then? Do you throw it out and search for another subject?

No, not necessarily. Everything is in the delivery.

After reading How to Develop Any Idea Into a Great Story at Writers Digest, I began to understand more about why some of my story ideas seem to die on the vine. 

I need to feed them differently, shine light from a different angle, but rework the idea until it sizzles with energy.

Here are the things I gleaned from the article.

  • Bend it by-
    • Getting primal, give your character an inner yearning that drives him.
      • Now take that urge and bend it to an uncomfortable level.
    • Taking the familiar, turning it on its head, make a paradox. A lover of women who kills women
    • Have fun with a little crazy. Who is the crazy one?
  • Amp it with-
    • Emotions/feelings
    • Action
    • People
    • There are no minor characters. Make sure the story gives each character their due.
    • Inflict Pain. Add a truth teller, a flesh ripping, spine-tingling character.
    • Let your characters feel pain.
    • Remember blood is thicker than water. Family trumps all. Add conflict of kinship.
  • Drive it-
    • 0-60, hit the gas. Start with blood, guts, tears, fears, danger, broken lives and don’t slow down.
    • Let the normal dissolve and barrel like an out of control train toward disaster.
    • Make your victim complicit in her dilemma.
    • Give your protagonist an impossible choice.
  • Strip it-
    • Quality over quantity
    • Don’t tell the emotions, let the reader feel the emotion.
    • Use small, everyday things to bring the story to life.

What do you think? Can a bad idea really be turned into a good story?

Have you ever taken a bad idea and turned it around?

Do you have an idea that’s sitting on a back burner?

I’ve got a notebook full!

Need more tips to turn your idea around?

Keep reading – great articles below.

Leave me a comment – I love comments.

Please head over and “like” my Facebook page at Facebook at jeanswriting . Or to connect with me, click the “write me” tab. Don’t forget you can follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and

Please stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

How to turn an idea into a story (Free workbook) Tera Lynn Childs

How to Turn an Idea Into a Story – Luc Reid

How to brainstorm your story idea into a working concept – Veronica Sicoe

How to take your idea to story

Do you understand how to flesh out your ideas?

Not me, I’m still learning. Taking an idea and writing a full novel is not easy, not easy at all.


Writing sounds so easy when an idea burst into my mind like fireworks on the 4th of July. But, as they say, the devil’s in the details. And then I’m stumped.

Ever happen to you? Great idea but…

Reading books and articles help me. One of my favorite go-to bloggers is Janice Hardy over at Fiction University. She gives writers good step-by-step instructions to take an idea to finished story.

Another great resource is She Writes. This is a great source for tips on how to flesh out a scene. And isn’t that what makes up a chapter? Scenes?

What did I get from the articles below?

  • know what the scene is about
  • can I relate to my character’s emotions
  • write like no one will read it, go crazy
  • use images to invoke place and time
  • find the problem, find the stakes
  • ask if each scene moves the protagonist toward her goal
  • know what is important to the characters

Tell me – 

Do you have trouble launching your ideas?

Do you have a tip that would help me flesh out an idea?

Read these articles and share the tips helped you. I’d love to know.

I Have An Idea for a Novel! Now What? by Janice Hardy


Leave me a comment – I love comments.

Please head over and “like” my Facebook page at Facebook at jeanswriting . Or to connect with me, click the “write me” tab. Don’t forget you can follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and

Please stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

Do you need help with blogging ideas?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I try to think of a new blog, and like a dry well, I come up empty.well-145661_640

My brain can’t think of a damn thing y’all might want to know.

Does that ever happen to you?

I’ve got story ideas, but some days the blogging ideas just won’t come.


Well, if that’s the case, head over to See Jane Write and…

Let’s #bloglikecrazy!

She’ll give you a bunch of tips on keeping your blog fresh and current.

Need more? Keep reading!

Blog Post Ideas for Writers: Solving the “What Do I Blog About?” Conundrum by


101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas by Molly Greene

40 Blog Post Ideas For Novelists, Poets, And Creative Writers

Where do you find blogging ideas?

How do you write a blog post day after day?

I’d love to know!

Leave a comment or click the “write me” tab or look for me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

How can you help?

What is the difference between an Alpha Reader, Beta Reader or Critique Partner?

How can you help a writer?working from home, laptop with mug by a window

Do you read a lot?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Employee Tilly Shi...

Do you have an opinion?

Then you have a lot to offer a writer and here's how.

Writers need feedback before a manuscript is completed. A reader is invaluable to a writer and even if you’re not a writer, you have an opinion.

Readers can provide all or just some of the critique points. Also, while they will discuss some of the good things they like about the story, the goal is to have a reader you trust that’s completely honest. One who is willing to point out problems and say “hey, this does not work for me.”

The Alpha Reader

  •  An alpha reader can be anyone who enjoys reading, and doesn’t need to be a writer.
  • Alpha readers look at the big picture, help through roadblocks, and prod the writer so they can keep writing.
  • Act as a sounding board, checking for readability.
  • Lets the writer know if the first sentence, paragraph or chapter hooks them.
  • If story, main character and world is intriguing.
  • Addresses the larger elements of the story —the pacing, the tension, plot arcs, characterization, backstory, and theme.
  • Points out if the scene works; confrontation, motivation, pacing or confusing.
  • Likability of the characters and if any need to be fleshed out more.
  • Listen for the POV voice.
  • The feedback short, just enough to reassure you if the plot is on track, or to point out where the story went astray.
  • The Alpha Reader doesn’t: Give line comments, unless a single word or phrase derails a scene.

The Beta Reader looks for the same things as an Alpha Reader plus:

  •  Beta readers welds a red pen checking for all types of problems (big and small), while encouraging the writer to produce the best story possible. The beta reader looks for all the things the alpha reader does but in more detail.
  • Does line by line editing, looking for errors in spelling, grammar, characterization, and continuity.
  • Character likability and POV voice.
  • Pacing, the tension, plot arcs, characterization, backstory, and theme.
  • Ability of plot to capture and hold their attention.
  • Discuss if the end was satisfying.
  • Overall impressions of what worked and what didn’t. What they liked and didn’t.
  • A beta reader gives the same kind of detailed feedback and tips that you get from critique partners, but the beta reading just goes in one direction—they beta read for you, but you don’t necessarily beta read for them.

A Critique Partner:

  •  The critique partner (beta) reads and critiques your story, and you do the same for their WIP (not necessarily at the same time, though).
  • Critique partners give detailed feedback on not just plot and characterization, but on the craft aspects of writing—lack of conflict, violations of POV, etc.

Bottom line is you form a partnership with this person.