Which Story to Tell First?
Sometimes we're not searching for a story to tell, but wrestling with which story to tell first. We have a list of ideas we're crazy about exploring, but picking which seed to water first can be a challenge.
Time is limited. Energy is limited. And, for most of us, so is our bank account.
Therefore, to remove some of the agony and guesswork from this process, here are three indicators - which I now call "The Big Three" thanks to being hooked on This Is Us - to help you discern which concept deserves to be at the top of your to-do list.
1) Progress. This is a deceptively simple, yet meaningful marker. Which story is furthest down the road?
Essentially, which world, characters, narrative, themes, premise, plots, etc. are most developed?
"Progress" as a distinguishing factor isn't simply for the convenience of going with the story that's 'most complete.'
The level of traction you have on a certain story can be representative of your understanding of said story.
Starting with what you have most worked out in your mind and heart (aka, writing what you know the most) can help decrease the number of obstacles involved with bringing your work to life.
2) Urgency. Is your concept especially relevant to issues being widely-discussed today?
Think of specific subjects such as, but certainly not limited to:
- North Korea's relationship with the US
- The Muslim refugee crisis in Myanmar
- Sexual harassment in organizations
- Global immigration policies
- Gun violence
- Innocents killed by law enforcement
- Women as difference-makers today and throughout history
Note: You can ignore broader, sweeping topics such as crime, scandal, corruption, general drug use, underdog stories, rags-to-riches tales, etc. These have proven to be consistently popular given the proper premise and execution.
BONUS: Aside from addressing the ills and thrills of your time, "urgency" has another shining benefit: a rapid influx of material.
As publications clamor to produce books, podcasts, biopics, articles, research studies, documentaries, etc. to feed the public appetite (and make $$$) - you get a buffet of content to study, draw from and help build your story.
3) Value. Which concept do you believe will provide the most value to the reader?
The Truth Which Must Be Read: There are hoards of people competing for the privilege to serve literary audiences and be paid for it.
Therefore, as writers, we should look to produce content of maximum value to the user and lead with our best foot.
Give people the work you believe will be most valuable to them in the best way you know how to give it.
Don't wait to get started. Don't pull punches. Don't waste time lifting up the competition or deprecating your abilities. Just get to the business of writing as often as possible and learning how to be the best writer you can.
Cool stuff. Go create!