1. adamjones703
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    adamjones703 New Member

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    Starting my first novel...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by adamjones703, Nov 20, 2015.

    Hey all, I'm new here - I'm hoping to start my first novel soon, it's been something I've been interested in for a while and I figure I'm just gonna go for it. I've been thinking about what I wanna do, and have an idea of the plot, setting, characters (kind of) - now its just piecing it all together - and thats where I'm struggling, I'm not really sure where to start as I've never done this before - I have a few hours in an airport tomorrow so I hope to piece some of it together then. Any advice?

    Thanks
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Write your idea down in a couple of sentences. What's the story? Who is the main character? What is (s)he trying to accomplish? What's stopping him/her? Is Dorothy trying to get to Oz so she can go home to Kansas? Is Indiana Jones trying to find the lost Arc before the Nazis? Once you have that, look at the protagonist a little more closely. What's (s)he like? What drives him/her? Then turn to the antagonist. Is it a person or group of people? Is it a force of some kind? Is it the setting itself? What's his/her/it's motivation in trying to thwart the protagonist? What's the nature of their conflict? You don't have to be detailed, just a loose idea so that you can see where you are going.

    Once you've done that - writing it down, probably no more than a page - you can either do a more detailed outline to give yourself a sense of the flow of the story, or you can just "write where the story takes you" (what is sometimes called "a pantser"). Do whichever feels best for you.

    Best of luck!
     
  3. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Welcome. My biggest piece of advice is to find a support group whether online or in real life. I personally prefer in-person writing critique groups because you build bonds over time can it becomes a cooperative effort for everybody to finish their books together. But the biggest thing is to network with other writers who know the craft - iron sharpens iron (also learning to critique others' writing helps you with your own). So, I would start by checking MeetUp for any local writers' groups and try a few out. Mine has been invaluable.

    As for the actual writing...well...start at the beginning. Do you know the beginning? If so write that. If you want to know more about your plot before you write, maybe do an outline. There are generally two types of writers in terms of approach: Outliners/Architects who have a detailed outline of the whole book before they start, and Discovery Writers/Gardeners who prefer to learn and grow with the characters and don't have a formal outline. Both of these approaches are fine, and there are a lot of gradations in between (I'm a Discovery writer but I know the shape of my full plot in some detail, and I sometimes outline several chapters in advance). But, you should probably think about which of these approaches works for you - or try both. If you're thinking you need to just start writing but just keep staring at the page because you don't know what to write, you might be an outliner at heart and need to build your structure. If you think you need an outline but just can't bring yourself to write one or think that's tedious, you maybe should look into how Discovery Writers work.

    Some people don't like these but I'm a proponent of story-structure templates as learning tools to help you learn the shape of a novel from the inside. We all like to look at great architecture, but if you actually want to build a house you need to know where all the beams go and how they get nailed in. Three templates that are relatively loose are Three-Act Structure, Seven Point Structure, and the Hollywood Formula (and actually those can all be overlayed on top of eachother and are different ways of viewing the same basic thing).

    Lastly, I am a big proponent of the podcast "Writing Excuses" with Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal. It's now in its tenth season and I literally used it as my basic curriculum when I decided that I wanted to pick up creative writing again after a number of years away from it. They do really great 15 minute episodes that don't require huge blocks of time.
     
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  4. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Above all, just start writing. The first page is the hardest. The blanks will fill themselves in as you go. Do it in the airport and don't worry whether it is pretty or perfect, first drafts aren't
     
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  5. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    My tip is to trust your character and live vicariously through them. But! You are the god of their realm, so throw stuff at them, make them suffer, bleed and curse their existence. This is how I finished the first draft of my novel. I just sat there and wrote about my character's life, the thing they wanted (goal), the stuff on their way (conflict) and how they transformed in the end (resolution).

    Have fun with it! The first draft is for your eyes only while the next drafts are for sharing.
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I usually just write a list of what could happen and call it my Happenings list and put it into a rough timeline. This works out quite well because most action is cause and effect. Scenes need triggers ( why's, what ifs, catalysts ) and certain actions are more potent and therefore will need a specific spot in the story to work. So it's not too difficult to sort out what action goes where.
    After I've sorted this out I start to write. You don't need all your happenings - or your ending. Those things will come about as your character develops in the scenes and story.
    Best thing to do is just write while you've got some energy for the project and let the first draft take care of itself.
     
  7. qWirtzy
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    qWirtzy Member

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    When I'm starting a novel, that is once I'm past outlines/timelines and ready to draft, I write a short piece that is related to the story/world. Sometimes it will feature characters directly related to the plot of the greater book, others it is only another look at the setting and/or some of its themes. I've used these short stories as prologues, as well as posting them as companion pieces to the novel to generate interest from fans. It's a great way to start making prose without the pressure of conforming to the larger narrative, and I get a sense of completion right away.
     
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