Choosing a Subject: Development

This is the second part of my overview of how to choose a subject for a story. My belief is that the best way to do this is to look at the various parts of the story from the perspective of finding the pieces before you begin, and finding authenticity.

You can find these elements in a plot or a character, so you aren’t tied into a dogmatic way of viewing the central mode of a story. This is a process of elimination: if you can’t find these things, your story is likely to have issues down the road.

Choosing a Subject: Initiation

The greatest challenge an author faces when preparing to write is choosing a worthwhile subject for their work.

This may seem trivial at the moment of conceiving, but having a faulty premise kills works-in-progress in their tracks and manifests in various problems difficult to track back to their source.

I don’t have an orthodox method for selecting a subject in mind: if you’re a plot-focused writer or a character-focused writer (Jeff Gerke writes about this in his Plot Versus Character), you will start from a different point. I often work around a theme or motif and take some time to figure out the subject once I’ve developed the message, but I’m cerebral in my approach to stories because of my background as a teacher.

Ultimately, choosing a subject will come down to the personality, proclivity, and aptitude of the writer. However, you can rule out poor subjects by applying a simple test.