Beyond the idea…

2015_December_ideas“But the truth is, it’s not the idea, it’s never the idea, it’s always what you do with it.”

Neil Gaiman


I recently read (and loved) this quote from author Neil Gaiman. Gaiman, whose work spans such a wide range of genres and age categories, surely knows a thing or two about how to execute great ideas.

It seems that today’s books are even more dependent on the so-called ‘hook’.

It’s the compelling idea that draws a reader in and forces him or her to race through a book to see how the story is resolved. I know I’ve been dragged into my fair share of stories because the premise seemed so fascinating, but I’ve often felt burned when the story fizzled out and my early excitement has been long forgotten. And I’ve kicked myself for trusting the author based solely on an intriguing hook. It’s the equivalent of shelling out money for a movie ticket, when all the best bits were in then trailer that enticed you to the cinema in the first place.

So when I see Gaiman’s quote, this is what it makes me think: How does the author execute his or her idea? Are we as invested in the characters in the middle of the book and at the end as much as we were on the first pages? In my mind, if we are, then I believe the author has done justice to his or her idea, and has managed to fully engage readers in the story.

The idea itself is fine, but I like to know I’m in expert hands when I crack open the covers of a new book. After all, if you give the same kernel of an idea to ten different authors, the result would be ten completely different books.

Isn’t that one of the reasons we love reading so much? Here’s a toast to all authors skilled at moving beyond their initial ideas, and fully investing us in the way they’ve executed them on the page.

Happy holiday reading to all!


  1. evelyneholingue on December 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I love his work, too, Kimberley. And the quote is so true. Whcih makes writing much harder than it looks. Happy holidays and happy reading to you as well.

    • kimberlysullivan on December 24, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Isn’t it a great quote? And yes, it’s definitely much harder than it seems. Happy holidays to you and your family! Hope there are plenty of great books under the tree this year. : )

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