Look for execution

December 17, 2013

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.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.


  1. Reply


    I really like this! Personally, I don’t think the “multiplyer” needs to be in money, although it’s a good way to think about writing from a profit point of view. All of there things can be done well but at the same time, money is not a nessisary component to the story writing process itself. Thanks again….
    -a young writer

    1. Reply


      But of course. The man whose blog I linked to, Derek Sivers, was talking about businesses rather than fiction, so of course he coached it in terms of profit; that’s what businesses are for, after all. The same thing applies to the quality of a story, though.

      Though hopefully creators get paid for their good work too, but as Neil Gaiman would say, even if they don’t, at least they have the work, and if it’s good, that’s something to be proud of.

  2. Reply


    true, executing an idea into a whole complex of story with characters, plot and stuff is even more important than brilliancy. In fact, the ideas or concepts are depended fully on the execution. Why is that? the answer is quite simple when you think about it – the idea or concept isn’t fully visible to the reader at the beginning. You must advance(sometimes quite a lot) in order to start grasp the idea or concept. And if the execution isn’t good, not only it won’t be enjoying, it may also create difficulties in understanding the concept.

    But, sometimes, even the simplest idea, if it’s executed well, can turn into something very very good. what I am saying is..looking for something brilliant isn’t always what you want, quite the opposite – sometimes, you got to keep things simple.
    a fresh example IMHO is the anime Gingitsune of this season. the idea isn’t that brilliant or something, but they keep doing it so lovely and it’s..simple and enjoying. it proves you don’t need to look harder in order to carry out something good. The simple in ideas can work like a magic, as gingitsune is for me.
    another great example is actually what you’re covering – outbreak company(IMHO even better example than maou-sama, not that it’s bad or something).

    since I was getting into the dimension of comedy and satire – most of them are all about execution. sure, it’s nice if you have something new and all. but a good comedy must be executed well. otherwise it simply won’t work. Period.
    (side note: I don’t know if you’ve watched it yet, but saint young-men (saint onii-san) OVA and movie (in this order!) are certainly an example for this in comedy! definitely recommended, especially for you :P).

    in your last post, you discussed about fanfiction. One of the things that came out was “one’s touch”. And IMO, you can see one’s touch through execution.
    sure, you can see it in the idea as well. But remember – than depends almost fully on execution. And one’s touch is crucial for execution. In a way..it shows the heart of the writer. Not fully, yeah. But an important part. If the story seems dull and soulless to you (even if the idea is good), it’s immediately projects on the writer.
    BTW..execution..what is that exactly? I don’t about you, but I am having a hard time to pull out an answer to this. It’s possible with a little bit more thinking ..but you know why it’s hard? because of subjective. We’re similar and different in the way we perceive execution.
    think about it that way – remember the multiplier? So, basically if you have a great idea with dull execution it’s bad. So as for bad idea and good execution (THO you may say it’s better..but if the idea is really sucks..it won’t sell). But what about the middle..is there a “threshold”? yes and no. why is that? as I said subjective. What may seem a nice idea to you, isn’t appealing for me. More or less works with execution. But the term is kinda blurry, and mostly people have common elements by which they estimate execution.
    Oh god, it was tough to refrain myself from speaking about S;G, SnK and so…I have so much to say, especially in terms of execution (though I wouldn’t use it in comparison, more like examples to test some aspects and elements we use in that matter).

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