If you’re anything like most aspiring fiction writers, you’ve wondered: how do you begin writing a novel? It’s an excellent question, with many possible answers. And getting to the heart of the matter is key to your success as a novelist.
In this article, I’ll offer three tips for how you can begin writing a novel. I’ve successfully used these techniques myself for many years. Perhaps they will work for you, too.
1) Brainstorm plot and character ideas.
So you know you want to create a story. Where do you start? With brainstorming ideas for the plot, and the characters.
I tend to begin with the plot. For me, that means taking a basic situation and asking myself, “what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen in this scenario?” Imagine a conflict that could result, and proceed from there.
When brainstorming, start with a blank page, and allow your creativity to roam. Don’t judge the quality of your ideas at this point. Let your thoughts flow.
2) Create an outline.
After several brainstorming sessions, you will probably find that you’ve hit upon some ideas that excite you. Maybe you’ve got a few characters in mind. Perhaps some big, dramatic story events, too.
Now it’s time to shape those ideas into a more structured format. That’s where outlining comes in.
I don’t mean the kind of outline that you may have done in school, with a descending list of Roman numerals. This one doesn’t need to be formal, because it’s only for you at this point.
In my outlines, I detail the cast of characters (with basic info on each person), the setting, the time frame, and most of all, what happens in each chapter of the novel.
Yours doesn’t need to be this detailed. But if this is your first book-length manuscript, I suggest fleshing all of this stuff out in advance, because it will help you pull your story into a cohesive narrative structure.
3) Start writing.
Ah, now the fun begins! With all of important groundwork we’ve done with our brainstorming and outlining, sitting down to write the novel should be a breeze.
Actually, that probably won’t be the case at all. It will still prove a challenge. But by now, you should have a solid grasp of the plot, the characters, the setting, and many other elements of the story.
The key, now, is to follow a regular writing routine–a page a day, or more–and bring your novel to life. You can do it. Just make a little progress each day, and before you know it, you’ll be staring at a pile of manuscript pages and marveling that you wrote all of that yourself!