I could use some of those angels. No, I don't know until I've roughly plotted it and then written ten pages. And that usually just tells me when it's NOT working. I guess the best sign is when it's reasonably enjoyable to write.Have fun at Malice, those who are going!
An idea isn't worth a lick of chocolate if the story is poorly written. It all comes back to that. Everyone has ideas. A great story develops that idea to reach out and grab the reader. If the idea accomplishes that, it's a great one.
I have the greatest book -- "Secrets of the World's Best-Selling Writer." It is a book showing how Erle Stanley Gardner came up with his plots for all those Perry Mason mysteries. The part I found so helpful is when I open my notebook full of plot ideas and then take a cast of characters to see how they react in different plots. Playing around with the characters and the different possible plots get the old juices flowing.
I hear something, read something, and it won't leave me alone. My first novel, Sing It To Her Bones, was based on a true case that happened in the late 60s in my husband's hometown in far western KY. That case had a very unsatisfactory ending. Years later, I was able to set things right, at least on the printed page.
I "see" it, when a story works. It may come out of nowhere, or it may be in the midst of conversation with someone else, but if it's right I can see in unfolding in my head. There's an almost physical "click" when that happens.
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