That moment when you sit down prepared to start writing the novel that has been building in your mind for centuries is amazing, perfect, you’re finally doing it. Until you are faced with that blank sheet of paper, or your empty word program…
Where do you start?
Writing a book is akin to creating a world. You become a God with the lives of your characters in your hand, the world will be shaped by you and you alone. That is a lot of power. And you know what they say, with great power comes an immense lack of ideas in what to do first.
Okay, okay, that’s not what they really say…. but it is what writers say. With the power of the Gods in hand, where do they start n formulating the story. Here are a few ideas we hope will help.
Prepare Your Characters
At the end of the day, it is the characters that are going to tell your story. Develop them well. Make sure they have character progression in small and big things.
Know your characters. Understand what they look like, understand what motivates them. One famous author once asked two character-based questions to help you write your book.
- What does you charachter want more then anything in the world?
- What is going to prevent them from getting it?
The more you know about your charachters the easier it will be to develop them. Read examples of your favourite story book charachters from any age, how did they develop. Exmple: Brian Jacques Redwall. Matthias was a novice mouse, he was shy, his sandles were too big, he was clumsy. As the story progressed he showed wisdom beyond his years, he showed firmness, maturity. He grew into his sandals, as it were, as he shouldered responisbility becoming the warrior mouse that saved the day.
Other examples. Merry and Pippin in the Lord of the Rings. These two charachters developoed from country bumpkins to respected warriors. Hermione from Harry Potter. She was a goody two shoes who learned to relax, who used her skills to help bring down he who must not be named.
Know how you are going to develop your charachters, even if that knowledge is just a post it note that says He/She starts with a lot of pride. By the end of the story they have leanred humility and take more care in their actions.
Prepare Your Land
You are God. You can make your land as you need it. What type of land are you writing your story in? Is it an exting land? Is it going to be true to a fault? Is it in a set time period? A Paeallell universe? Space? It is up to you, you are in full control.
If you are just starting out as a writer, it is easier to ue a place or town that you are familiar with, you can then wonder these places for inspiration, act out scenes when you get stuck, even sit in the area to write.
Or you can enjoy the creative freedom of a whole new world. JRR Rolkien created a whole new world. J K Rowling created a new world tied into a real world. Write the world you want to use, explain to yourelf on paper where your main events will be hed. If you have a map or images then use them. If you have created the word from ground up use a place like World Anvil to create your world.
World Anvil is also the perfect program to use if you are creating a D&D based novel. More on that during NanoWireMo month.
Having notes as to your world is essential to getting that story written. It stops you from stopping and getting stuck in what you are doing.
Prepare Your Space
While it is true you can write novels on scraps of paper, cafe napkins, and notepad after notepad. You are more likely to get the stry written if you have a writing space. This space consists off:
- Your laptop, notebooks, or type writer.
- Your charachter notes.
- Your word notes.
- Your scrap notes.
- Multiple pens and pads (even if you have a laptop).
- Refreshments. Cake is a must. So is coffee.
When you have everything you need within hands reach then you have no reason to get up, go elsewhere, and get distracted from your goal.
Prepare Your Goals
Write your dailiy goal plan. Remember the following:
- Write 100 words and you have a paragraph.
- Write 500 words and you have a page.
- Write 2 pages a day (1000 words) for 10 days and you have 10,000 words.
- The average novel is 60,000 words.
If you aim to write 30,000 words a month then you can have your first book writte in two months! By doubling the dailiy aim to 2000 words a day you can have your novel written in 30 days. Set a dailiy time to write with a goal for how many words you want to write a day.
This works best if you have something to reward yourself with as you meet your goals. A bit of cake? A ticket to see a show? A new notepad? Whatever it is that you enjoy, reward yourself with it when you meet your goal.
Keep Your Scrap
Whatever you write, whenever you write it. Keep it all together in a folder.
All those little bits that may or may not find their way into the completed works is worth keeping. It gives inspiraton, it givs you something to read when you have writers block, it keeps your mind fresh and open. You never know when scraps will come in handy so keep them all.
If you can’t stand all the pieces of paper, either type them into a word document just fro scraps, or take readable photos and upload them into your laptop. In this way you can keep them all together so you have them when you need them.
I have all my scrap in Notepad and on scrpas of paper. Whenever I get stuck writing I read some of these pieces to get my mind back in the setting of the charachters, of what they need, of how they will act. This helps me to continue writing once more. For more ideas on how to get unstuck if you have writers block check out my other post dealing with the Writers Block Goblin.
At the end of the day, the only way to turn that story into a manuscript is by writing. You need to sit down and start putting words on the paper.
You don’t have to start at the begninng. You can start wherever in the story you want to start. The part that inspires you the most. This could be an action scene, a romance scene, a death scene. Even the climax of the whole story! Write about the bit you have gone over and over in your head. You can go over it again when you have completed your first draft. Giving yourself something to write around gives you something to aim for.
Just start writing.
And talk to writing communities when you get stuck. There are many out there who are willing to help. You can even drop a line in the comments here, I would love to hear from you.