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How to Write a Novel: Ideas and Execution

Ideas are a dime a dozen, sometimes you’ll find them for a nickel. Yeap, they’re cheap and easy to come by. Some of you newbie writers who are reading this are gasping in shock. You mean ideas are worth nothing? No. Ideas are worth everything. Everything story starts with an idea. My novel started with this sole idea: A YA female character who was a hero that could rival the big boys like Harry Potter, but be the same insecure girl that Bella in Twilight always is. I wanted a teenage girl hero who was nothing to be played with, but didn’t shun her femininity. That was the idea and just about a million other authors have had the same idea over the years. Idea’s are the skeletons, the bare bones, and worth close to nothing on their own. The execution is what’s worth something. You see when it comes to writing novels, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. You can take what appears to be a worthless idea and make it new through execution.

Well, what is execution? I like to call execution the clothes for an idea. It’s all about how you dress up the idea to make it shine, dazzling, and new and unless you started the trend, you never want to see someone else in the everlasting party of books who’s dressed up just like yours. That means your book isn’t unique. That means your execution isn’t different or exploring new angles and ways to look at it.

Let’s take the vampire story. Let’s say your idea is that girl falls in love with vampire and is pulled into vampire world. Let’s face it. That’s nothing new, but let’s say when we take away all the creative devices and plot, that’s what we have. Now depending on what you want to tone you want is what will make your book different. Let’s say you want the ideal pretty much-PG rated stuff with vampires who fight for humanity, vampires who fight against humanity, a distinct line between the good guys and the bad guys, and people who get married and then have sex. That means you end up with Twilight or something along those lines when there’s that kind of tone.

Now let’s take that same idea, girl falls in love with vampire and sucked into their world, but this time you’re writing something more R-rated. I’m talking about like Blood that Bond (You can find it on Barnes and Noble), where vampires rock a fine line between good and evil, drink human blood and only care about humanity because it’s their next meal, have lots of graphic sex, and, I’m quoting for this next one, where vampires actually cum (that’s exactly what one of my college buddies said). Same idea, much different execution.

If we want something that falls right in between that I know of, it would be that Vampire Knight manga I read. It’s got the vampires who fight for humanity and try to stay away from human blood so they can live in peace with humans, but at the same time you don’t know if the good guys is actually the bad guy, the vampires impale quite a few people, the good guy slaughters the vampire council and the main coupling are siblings.

So do you see my point? It’s all about execution. Harry Potter wasn’t the first book about a boy who goes to a magic boarding school to learn magic, hers was just one of the ones that appealed to a massive audience and stood out because of the J.K.’s ability to world-build (we’ll get to that one later). Anyway, here are some examples of stories with the same idea, but vastly different execution in not just the novel world, but movies, manga, anime, cartoon, etc…

Vampire Knight, Blood that Bonds, Twilight: Girl falls in love with vampire and is sucked into vampire world

Batman and Iron Man: Billionaire playboys become superheroes through technology.

Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Tokyo MewMew: Girls get magical power to defeat antagonist to the world.

 Harry Potter, Tapestry Series, Percy Jackson: Boy goes off to learn to control magic powers and ends up fighting super bad antagonist who’s trying to take over.

See? When you strip a book to its bare idea, the ideas are the same, but the execution is what makes them unique.

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