How a Writer Weighs an Idea. Six Questions.

This post by Alton Gansky originally appeared on Novel Rocket on 2/24/15.

Benjamin Franklin used a simple technique to judge the value of an idea. When considering a decision, the founding father would draw a single line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left side he’d mark a +; on the right side he put a – (minus sign). He would then make a list of the good points, and one for the negatives.

If the pluses outweighed the negatives, then he felt the idea was a good one. Too many negatives and he moved on to another idea.

I’ve always thought it was a great technique but it failed to weigh the pluses and minuses. For example a minus might be minor taking three or four to have more value than a single plus. Of course the same can be said in reverse. So my Ben Franklin lists included a value with each plus or minus. Maybe I really love the idea. I’m enthusiastic and have been for some time. That plus will out weigh several minuses.

Over the years I developed a different approach to evaluate an idea: a series of 6 questions. Not every idea that comes to mind is worthy of our time, efforts, and money. Some concepts arrive dressed in fancy clothes and blowing party whistles. We court them, chat them up, and then, over time, notice that the idea is hollow and only pretended to have value. I needed a way to apply a little logic to what is often an emotional process.


Read the full post on Novel Rocket.


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