Writing a Novel?

How do you begin writing a novel?

Fountain Pen

 

My first novel was a training ground for me.  I had always been taught to plan out anything you intend to write for others.  This meant a dreaded outline.  I hate outlines.  I don’t really know why, but when I try to write an outline, I begin filling in details to the point that it is no longer a shortcut for anything.  Another suggestion was to use a “story board” approach.

A story board is a graphic outline.  Picking scenes or segments of the story and trying to find an orderly approach to present them, makes sense.  I like the idea, but, for me it still means knowing the end from the beginning.  That is my real problem.

When I start writing a novel, I don’t know where it will go as I write, much less how it will end.  Some have termed this “seat of the pants” writing.  Whatever the technique, it is how I write.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that how you write is WRONG!  (an exception might be in a formal classroom)  When it comes to your writing style, your method, your characters, they belong to you.  Outlines can help and story boards can aid in organization, I just haven’t employed them.

Of course there is the issue of who will read what you have written.  If your story is disorganized, the characters are unrealistic, and the plots go nowhere, you my love your writing, but few will want to read your premier novel.  Structure and content are important, but that isn’t really what I am addressing.

When I began writing I started by just describing the world around me in prose.  I tried to describe the variations of the color of the sky, the noses along a dusty path.  I wanted to be able to convey our beautiful world to a reader through words.  Transporting the reader from paper into my world was my goal.  Then I began to branch out into “what ifs.”  What if I just kept walking until I ran out of road?  What if a storm blew up?  What if . . . a character, whom I invented, stumbled upon a dead body?

The “what ifs” turned my prose into a story and ultimately a mystery with a touch of romance.  I wrote a few pages almost daily.  I added sub-plots where they seemed appropriate.  I added likeable and evil characters, all the while trying to keep my world “real.”  I didn’t know much about formatting and my grammar wasn’t (isn’t) great, but I plugged away.  I actually liked what I was writing and still enjoy reading it.  I could never say this about papers I wrote for school.  A Step Ahead of Death was born as my debut novel.

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Please comment on this and tell my how you write –

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About smcpherson58

Aside from loving chocolate and coffee (not necessarily in that order) Scott McPherson has learned that he loves to write. He writes fiction and, so far, has published two novels. Scott has many varied interests, though he tries to focus on one at a time. He has worked for nearly thirty-five years as a family physician, a pass-time that gives him great pleasure and pays the bills. He has five daughters and dotes upon three grandchildren. Recently married, he really loves life. Scott writes from his life experiences and from travel. His career in the active Air Force was brief, but he has been a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard since just before 9/11 in 2001. The aftermath of that great disaster changed the face of the Guard and led to missions in far-away lands. He has spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Crete and Guam in missions related to support for Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has been to Iceland and Antarctica as well. Scott has no personal experience with violent death or murder, but has gained knowledge from experts. In his first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death,” his character, Jack Sharp MD, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. First as suspect, then as amateur sleuth, Jack tries to make a difference. He finds himself right in the middle of an investigation well beyond the scope of a local murder. A man of faith, Scott traveled to Africa with his small family in the 1980s and served as a medical missionary in Zaire (known as Congo today) with a church organization. The vast difference in what it takes to exist in such an environment served as a basis for much of his second novel, a thriller, “Congo Mission.” His character, Jack, is twenty years younger than in the first novel. In “Congo Mission” Jack serves as a physician in a missionary hospital in the jungles of northwestern Zaire. There he is not only captivated by a young woman visiting the region, but falls victim to his nemesis Jacques Levant. His motivations and faith are tested and his resolve to do God’s work gets pushed to the limit. When he is not writing Scott enjoys walking, a practice that actually led to his first attempt at writing a novel. He began making notes and writing prose about the mundane things around him. He tried to make the details sound interesting, even though it was just for his own pleasure. Eventually he found that he could expand his prose to “what if?” “What if I just kept walking?” “What if I, or my character, found a dead body in the ditch along the side of the path?” That was the premise for the first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death.” Scott McPherson is an avid trombone player and has played since he was nine years old. He marched in the Cornhusker Marching Band at the University of Nebraska and now takes advantage of one free football game a year by playing in the half-time show with the UNL Alumni Marching Band. He plays in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and a community band from the nearby town of Waverly, Nebraska. Scott loves to sing as well, though his range seems to have diminished in recent years. He has sung in college and church choirs and remembers performing parts of Handel’s Messiah as a highlight of his singing experience. One little-known fact about Scott is that he once sang soprano in a boys choir. Scott plans to keep writing as long as the ideas flow and others show interest in his stories. He loves to interact with other writers or readers about what has become a passion in his life. Reviews are always welcome as are questions and comments.
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