How do you begin writing a novel?
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.
Please comment on this and tell my how you write –by