I think I'm technically a good writer, but my problem now is my ideas, the overall concept for what my stories are about. I used to focus on my technique, but I've been told my writing is on a professional level. The problem is what I'm writing about. I realized that I could write the greatest novel ever, but if the topic isn't compelling enough, doesn't have a hook, then no one will bother to read it and find out. An agent or editor or reader looking at the back cover will first judge the book by the description, and that description has to grab them. That's why I'm now trying to build my fiction on strong ideas.
To me, the perfect high-concept idea is Jurassic Park. The whole book can be summed up in one sentence: dinosaurs brought back to life with genetic engineering. That idea is so compelling that it makes you want to read the book. Everything else, like the fact that it's exciting and well-written, is just gravy. There was a bidding war for the movie rights before author Michael Crichton had even finished the novel, showing the studios didn't even care how the book turned out. They knew the idea alone was so powerful that it would be a great movie.
I work hard now to try to come up with compelling ideas for my writing. I think my forthcoming novel Drug Run is the best idea I've come up with recently, and hope the finished novel lives up to it.
How much work do you put into ideas? Do you just write what you want and hope others buy the idea or do you wait for a great idea to strike you? Let me know in the comments.