Writing Wednesdays: Where to start writing your novel and how to carry on

September 03, 2014

Wondering how to start writing a book? Or maybe you've started and don't know how to carry on. Read on for some advice!

I’ve had a lot of questions from people asking for help on how to start writing a story. And it can be hard, I know. Sometimes you have a really great idea for a book, but have no clue how to start working with it. 

It seemed apt to make it the topic of starting a story my first Writing Wednesday post.

I’ll be honest: when I start writing a novel, I usually end up trying out a few different first chapters before I find one I can work with. So one of the things I will advise is to just go for it. Just plunge right into your story: open a Word document (or whatever you prefer to use) and start writing.

It might suck, but that’s okay. 

At least you’ve started. If it sucks and doesn’t feel like it’s working out, just delete what you’ve written and start again. Do that until you have something you can work with. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

If you feel more comfortable plotting before you write, though, that’s totally cool! Writing is a very personal process and it’s very much down to you.

You can start a story with dialogue. 

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. (Check out this post on why dialogue is important, and this guest post on dialogue from Non Pratt.)

You can start out with a really hard-hitting line, like: ‘Today is my sixteenth birthday – and it’s also the day I’m supposed to die.’ (Or, you know, something like that, if that’s the vibe you want to set.)

You might also like: this post on how to write a good first line.

You can start with a description. 

Pathetic fallacy might be cliché sometimes, but it works. Sometimes, setting the scene can set the atmosphere you want to hook your readers in. Or maybe you start simply by introducing your character.

If you’ve made a start on your novel – congratulations are in order! Well done. 

The next step is carrying on. 

If you’ve made a start and you’ve got that first scene/chapter out of the way, then you need to remind yourself exactly where your story is going. 

You don’t want to go off on a tangent for six long chapters and then realise that you’ve still not brought in any of the fantasy aspect to your story you intended. Even if you haven’t plotted out all of your story, you’ve got some idea of what book you want to write – and you need to bring that in quickly. Set the tone.

For instance, your character has magic powers but doesn’t know it – and you don’t want them to find out until a few chapters in – you have to remember to drop hints, so that at least the reader is picking up on these things and it doesn’t seem to come totally out of the blue.

If you still can’t get it to work, go back to that first chapter. 

Maybe a little (or a lot) of rewriting is in order. Try it, and see if it helps. It can be incredibly hard to start a book, but I’ve found that it usually gets a lot easier afterwards, so try not to stress out too much and give up too early. Try out a few different writing styles, too – even just changing from third to first person can make a big difference to how you write your story.

Don’t be afraid to try some new things when you’re starting a new book. You’ll usually be dealing with new characters, and they might need some tweaking before you can work with them.

But, like I said: don’t give up too quickly. Hang in there.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.