1. thearchitect
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    thearchitect Member

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    Novel for the summer

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by thearchitect, Jun 26, 2014.

    Hey guys,

    I'm new here, anyway I've just finished some heavy exams, I haven't done much writing because of them and I've a reasonably free summer ahead of me, I was wondering how best to start on a novel? I've loads and loads of little ideas written down but no concrete plot, some very vague ideas for a full work but nothing fleshed out, anyone have any tips on how I could best start?
     
  2. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    Congrats on getting your exams out of the way! I wouldn't say there is any one way to go about starting a novel. (I've never finished one so I'm probably not the best person to advise you.) For me, starting a novel involves a lot of daydreaming until I have a beginning an ending a central character and possibly some other bits. The best advice is just to do it, you might be the kind of person who can rattle off thousands of words on a whim, or you might be the sort who needs rigorous planning to ensure that you stay on a track and finish.

    As I'm writing this I'm remembering a trick Derren Brown did. He basically wrote a paragraph or two about a few individuals describing their personality and things about their life after only having met them once. The people mostly reported a high level of accuracy - I'm going somewhere with this - the trick was that he had given all of them the same paragraph describing the same person. One of the descriptions in this paragraph was "You once tried to write a novel but gave up because you didn't have enough confidence in your abilities."

    From what I remember, he did this with several groups in different countries. This tells us that there's a lot of people out there who don't have a lot of confidence in themselves... So go for it. Waste no time 'cause the earth's gonna keep on spinning. And remember. You're awesome.
     
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  3. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I start with an idea. Next, I envision 'scenes' as if it were a movie. I mentally work the scenes, moving things and people and dialogue around until it works. Then, I try to come up with more scenes that come before or after. It's almost like shooting a film out of sequence, but as the scenes come together one by one I mentally edit them into some semblance of order. I will create an outline of these various scenes (rarely detailed; just a few sentences to remind me what is going on) so that I don't lose track. I now have a story. At some point in all of this I will need to develop characters. Some people can create them easily but I have to sit down and really work on an outline with background information and history so I can teach myself about them and add/subtract things to make them what I want. I do not use every piece of information in the story, but by painting a complete picture of the character I'm better able to know how and why they will do what I need of them.

    With this background work completed, I just start writing, pushing from scene to scene, occasionally adding one or two and maybe even chopping one that winds up being unnecessary. I try to write well on a first draft but don't dwell on heavy mechanics of writing or even getting all the details exactly right. If I forget something, I just make a note on my outline and go back and fix it later. This helps the writing to keep going.

    I used to write without a pre-set plan but never completed anything. Now I complete projects pretty easily. Not everyone works the way I do, but I offer it for your consideration. The most important thing is to write, even if it is just outlines and character profiles. It's still something.
     
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  4. thearchitect
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    thearchitect Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys! :)

    I have loads of small notes and grand ideas and in my head they're mighty epics but I guess I'm scared of writing them in case they don't come out the way I want them to.
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was in a similar position to you, and I basically just started writing. I had a vague memory belonging to one character, and most basic description of two others, that was all. It takes a bit of skill to keep on track with a completely unplanned novel, though, so one thing I recommend is to have a parallel 'synopsis' file, where you can summarise each chapter into a few sentences, just list what happens in order of appearance, so that you have your plot at a glance. This is to avoid major plot holes and writing yourself into a corner. Good luck!
     
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  6. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Another idea - if you have a basic plot in mind - is to write yourself a list of questions. For example, if you intend to, lets say, have a character that ... falls off a cliff but survives, your questions would be something like:
    1 Why was he/she on the cliff?
    2 Was anyone else there?
    3 If he/she had suicide in mind, what caused her/him to want to kill themselves?
    4 How does this affect other characters?
    and so on ...

    My current WIP started with just one question. Once I'd answered that, I found myself with a few pages of questions that helped me figure out what happened before and after.
     
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  7. purplehershey
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    purplehershey Member

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    Spend time doing mindless things. Bike riding, sitting outside, doing yard work, laying by a pool and just let your mind wander. I'll imagine an entire story from start to finish completely in my head before I start to write it out.

    Though, as you keep writing, let your vision change. Don't stick to that first plan because usually you can come up with a way better one.
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I come up with a vague idea.
    Say I want to do a crime noir about a bank robbery. I start day dreaming about it.
    I think about various scenes and the possible protagonists. I then decide whose view point I want to take the story from. It could be from the bank robber, a bank teller that they kidnap or it could be from the pov of the bank robber's child when she springs an unexpected visit on him. Each viewpoint drastically changes the angle of the story and the idea of the story.

    Example- if I take the viewpoint from the bank robber his goal could be to hide his 'job' from his child and get through the robbery without incident. The kidnap victim could want to escape or merely survive, foil the robbery, or take a cut of the action. The goals of the child could be more complicated, she could find out about the robbery plans and blackmail her father into spending more time with her or she'll call the cops, or she makes friends with the kidnap victim. Either way I just sit and think or jot stuff down until I settle on an idea, goal, problem and protagonist I like. It doesn't take long maybe an hour or two. The great thing is you don't really need to plan a lot. You'll discover who the characters are the more you put them in situations in which they need to voice an opinion or a want and when they need come across obstacles and need to make a decision.
     
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  9. thearchitect
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    thearchitect Member

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    I do that while I'm running :D when I've something I'm working on, it's always growing and manifesting itself while I run, problem is I don't seem to have one concrete idea I want to develop atm :(
     

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