Guest Post: The Secret to Getting Started on that Novel
This guest post is from Trevor Schmidt.
Writing a novel is hard. It takes time and a lot of commitment. The secret is preparation.
Before I start writing a novel, I write a one paragraph synopsis. This is meant to look like the back cover copy you would see on a finished book. Next, I write a full page synopsis. This summary outlines all of the major plot points and gives you a loose understanding of where you will go with your writing.
This, however, is just the beginning.
Create a list of characters. Provide physical descriptions and quirks (every character should have at least one quirk or distinguishing quality to set them apart). The next step is to make a web of connections among the characters. Character A may love Character B but hate Character C, and their dialogue will have to reflect that. But, Character B and Character C may be friends, so the dialogue between them will have to reflect that.
Something else to think about is how characters will act when certain characters are in the room. Character A and B may show their affection for each other when they are alone, but Character A may not be comfortable with that when Character C is in the room.
Once you’ve figured out the character dynamics, I would create a chapter breakdown. Figure out how long each chapter will be (give or take) and how long you would like to make your novel. Write a paragraph for each chapter describing the major plot points and what absolutely has to happen.
Finish that list, and you’ll be extra prepared to start writing your novel. However, don’t be surprised if you have to revise those chapter breakdowns. Often when writing, you’ll have a spark of brilliance and decide to take the story in another direction. It’s still important to have that framework, though, because it can help get you back on track after a tangent or remind you what you want to accomplish with the story.
A day or two of preparation will mean weeks saved in revision and writer’s block. Try it. Even if you decide to go another way in your writing, the experience will help you visualize a story and create interesting character dynamics in later writings.
Authors: What process do you use to start a new novel?