Years ago, I was chatting with my friend Jess Lebow, and told him about this great idea I had for a video game. I don’t even remember the idea anymore, but I do remember his response: “No one cares about your great idea.” He went on to elaborate (and I’m paraphrasing), “Everyone can have a great idea, but no one will really take notice until you sit down and do something about it.” He was talking about the video game business in particular. Was I ready to put something down on paper at least? Raise money? Create some kind of proof-of-concept, and so on?

Well, needless to say, I am not the founder and CEO of a video game company and again, I can’t even remember what that great idea was.

Last October I was in Los Angeles for the Writer’s Digest Conference West and in my seminar on writing science fiction and fantasy I went off on a bit of a tangent on this same subject. If you have an idea for a novel or a short story (or a video game or an invention, and so on) . . . so what?

I know that sounds rude, even condescending, but I don’t mean to be either of those things. I want you to take that idea and do something with it…

Read the rest in…

Editor and author Philip Athans offers hands on advice for authors of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and fiction in general in this collection of 58 revised and expanded essays from the first five years of his long-running weekly blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook.


—Philip Athans


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Or contact me for editing, coaching, ghostwriting, and more at Athans & Associates Creative Consulting.


About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Nice post. One of the things I used to hear a lot are people’s “great ideas” for smartphone apps. The world is full of great ideas. But you have to do something with the idea for it to matter.

  2. Quite sure Da Vinci was Aries so I’m not surprised he had so many ideas yet little to show for it , I’m afraid Im one too .

  3. jesseknutso says:

    I feel like this is not the easy answer I am looking for so I am going to ignore it. Everyone keeps saying that hard work is the answer but I’m pretty sure there is another way. I hope in the future you will consider giving us the shortcut.

    While I wait for the shortcut, yes, I should probably just get to work. I guess.

  4. TYBC says:

    Thanks Phillip,
    This is really good advice for inspiring writer’s such as myself, thanks for the tip. I’m definitely re-blogging this.

  5. Shawn says:

    Okay! Sheesh! I’m going already.

  6. bzuley says:

    This is about right. When, I put up my website at I dumbly went asking for feedback about the concept before I finished writing the series I had planned. Of course, they were able to tell me the cover design didn’t fit the age group, but what else can people say? Good ideas are everywhere. Where’s the product?

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