If you’re looking for a great story, look for a good idea executed well. If you only consider brilliant, unique ideas you’ve never seen before, you’ll miss out on a lot of the best fiction.
Great ideas are nice, but they’re only the beginning, and a great idea alone is frankly worthless. It’s potential, but until it’s made into reality – until it’s executed upon – it’s not worth a dime. What a great idea really is is a multiplier.
A brilliant idea executed brilliantly will go farther than anything else, this is true, and so stories based upon brilliant ideas are certainly worth looking into; but a good idea executed brilliantly will be better than 95% of what is on the market, easily. The trick becomes not to find unique and utterly fascinating ideas, but those stories which have the potential to be interesting if they’re done well. Then you can find out.
Take the recent Shingeki no Kyojin anime. I find the idea behind Shingeki to be utterly brilliant – the titans tap into something primal within us, and then they twist it – but the execution was only good. That still makes for a great story, and a profitable one at that, but compare this to a series like Steins;Gate and you begin to see what I mean. The idea behind Steins;Gate is solid, if a bit weird at first blush, but they took it and executed it to the hilt, giving us a far more powerful and evocative story than Shingeki was able to offer.
Not convinced? Take Hataraku Maou-sama, a story whose central premise could easily be categorized as “so-so”; but once again it was executed masterfully, and in my book was a far better story than Shingeki.
I admit to bias here; my own forthcoming book does not possess an utterly unique premise, but I intend to ensure that it’s executed upon well. Yet I wrote the story I did because I believed this all along, and because it’s a story I deeply wanted to tell all of you. That’s worth a thousand brilliant ideas left unrealized if you ask me.