Wednesday, 12 October 2011

How to Start a Novel

I'm always starting a novel. I write a few pages and I give up. Usually, it's because I'm bored of the idea already but it's usually because I wasn't prepared when I jumped into the deep end with a blindfold on. If you get an idea, the best thing to do is to get the basic idea down onto a piece of paper. You don't need to plan every inch of your story but writing it down can help you transform the idea to words before you set out on climbing Everest writing a novel.

Recently, I've tried writing down an outline of every chapter so when I start writing, I write the first sentence of every chapter and so have something to work on. At least if I then get stuck on one chapter, I can move onto the next and come back to the other chapter later.

When you sit down and actually write, think about what you're going to write first. Don't just jump in at the deep end before you can swim. Decide your setting, which characters you're going to use, what your characters are like and other such tidbits of information.

When you finally have this, start writing. And don't write in heavy description. Write simple sentences and then build up on them. I liken this to making a cake. Add the milk slowly. You can always add more milk but taking milk out of cake mixture is impossible, I think.

The beginning is always the hardest part for me but once I have the first chapter, I'm usually fine. So get your thinking caps on and think. It'll make writing all the more easier.



  1. You sound a lot like me. I have to do an outline.... well its a little unconventional but it really works for me.... and then I know where my story is headed. So what are you working on now? :)

  2. I find then convenient though. Without an outline, I'm guaranteed to stop writing after the second page.

    I'm moving between different projects but I'm trying to focus on a modern Gothic.

  3. Right now I don't really know... I just finished writing an urban fantasy and started writing the sequel but then I got this giant idea for another novel and I'm not sure exactly where its going to take me.

  4. Yay for urban fantasy! Well I hope your writing goes well. It's great that you're writing a sequel. I would love to be at that point!

  5. I prefer to write outlines first, too. Speeds my writing along like nothing!

  6. It's like a drug isn't it? You go faster when you've got an outline. But I have met writers who can't write with an outline.

  7. Such great advice I can agree with and relate to! Well, mostly. Even though I've long-learned that seat-of-the-pantsing leads to more flailing than writing, outlines still trip me up. I usually just come up with a vague idea of how a book will unfold, then outline a few chapters at a time, not outlining the others until those are written! (A method that isn't for anyone, but oh well, it works for me!)

  8. It doesn't matter what method you use, as long as you use one that works for you. And if outlines aren't your think, no problem. You really just need to know where the book is going. If you don't have an end in mind, you will end up with 200,000 words.


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