I would be very surprised to meet a published author who has NOT been told some variation of this:  “I’ve got a great idea for a book!  All I need to do is write it down.”

Yeah, but no.

If you’re a writer, or if you’ve spent some time thinking about the process, you probably know where I’m going with this.  But, hey–pumpkins. If this post isn’t informative, at least it’s seasonal.

Without further ado, let’s proceed to the metaphor.

This is an idea: 

This is a story:

That pretty, orange pumpkin is bright and colorful and vastly appealing, but it is not a pie. It is the raw material for a pie. There’s a lot of peeling and chopping and roasting and pureeing and pumpkin-spicing and mixing and baking and maybe even cinnamon pie crust leaf-making that happens between pumpkin and pie. The first time you attempt pie, you might be less than happy with the outcome. A crisp, flaky crust takes practice. Technique matters. Great results come from knowing the basic rules of baking, then doing your own creative spin. Do all that, and do it often enough, and you’ll soon be helping pumpkins reach their glorious potential.

Ideas are wonderful and exciting. You can’t tell a great story without a good idea,  any more than you can bake a decent pumpkin pie from a Jack-o-Lantern variety gourd. But an idea, no matter how big and bright and shiny it might be, is not a story.  Yet.