I went to see my tutor to ask what he thought. We discussed both ideas and in the end he said he thought I should go with the new idea, because I was so enthusiastic about it. Well, call me contrary, but somehow, being told to go in one direction makes me immediately hanker after the alternative. The brilliant idea remained unwritten, the 25,000 words got added to and became The One, the book that got me published.
I'm writing about this now because I've just had a brilliant idea for a new novel. The only problem is, I'm half way through the rewrite of the current book and I simply can't leave it. But the new idea shimmers in the future: it calls to me.
I am older and wiser now. I don't need to ask someone else to know what to do. Every novel I've written has had a moment - usually at the 25,000 word mark - when another idea pops up and lures me into abandoning the old idea. The solution is to write the idea down with as much detail as you're holding in your head (which turns out to be surprisingly little when you have to put it down on paper). Then, when your current piece of writing is finished, you can go back to the brilliant idea.
I've only once been back to my brilliant idea, and that became A Single to Rome. None of the other brilliant ideas have ever been written up. When I go back and look at them I can see what the attraction was, but writing a novel and having ideas are two different things. Most of my brilliant ideas are just that - ideas. They're not stories. A Single to Rome was different because I woke up one morning with the final scene in my head. I wrote it down, then went back to the current novel.
Obviously a novel is a longer process, but I see students do this with short stories. They get so far with the writing, then drop it for another idea. The result is lots of unfinished pieces which can't be used. Remember this: the poorest idea badly written but finished is more use than the brilliant idea beautifully written and unfinished. Resist the siren call of the new story, and finish your work.