1. shadowblade

    shadowblade New Member

    Aug 12, 2020
    Likes Received:

    How do you start a novel?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by shadowblade, Aug 27, 2020.

    I have started writing a YA fantasy novel, and I’m not sure if I’ve started right. It’s in third person, and my character is thinking of something in her head. Then it tells the reader her name, and what she’s doing. The thing is, I’m not sure if I should just state her name or what she’s doing, or Start in her mind. The first sentence is:

    It had been a week and they hadn’t found out her mistake.

    There’s three sentences after that, and Then on the next paragraph it states her name and what she’s doing. Any suggestion for improvement and help would be awesome :)
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Aug 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    East devon/somerset border
    keep writing and come back to the first line when you do the self edit
    Infel, marshipan, Lifeline and 2 others like this.
  3. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

    Aug 30, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Norwich, UK
    My first advice would be to keep going and worry about perfecting it later. First get it written, then get it right.

    For future reference, it's best to have a scene start with something happening. Some sort of activity.
    sarkalark likes this.
  4. Adrian Perron

    Adrian Perron New Member

    Oct 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    I understand your pain. Too often do i re-read the few paragraphs I have written and find it deplorable compared to my current thinking. It helps me to have an outline or a little bit of the story sorted before I write. This way you can follow the general story line without having to have a concrete fully functional script ready on your first write. As other have said you will go back and change things in time. My biggest struggle is I tend to want it to sound right on the first go and it gets tedious re-writing the whole thing just because of a little hiccup a few pages into the story. All in all it is best to just write it no matter how bad the story is just so you can FINISH it. Then go back and re-write the entire story but from the perspective of already knowing how you want each scene to play out and only changing the parts that don't fit and correcting or adding in elements you feel were needed later in the book.

    It sounds counter productive to add in things after writing the book but ultimately you won't really know what is truly needed until its written. You may find that the main item you character needed all along was not really needed after all when you were done and that your main character found a loop hole or work around along the way. This doesn't mean you need to eliminate the item but it gives you the leeway you need to edit the book later by keeping in mind that this object is not needed. This is all example of course but I hope you get my meaning. Happy writing!
    Rzero likes this.
  5. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Jun 5, 2016
    Likes Received:
    My first novel, I not only wound up getting rid of the first few sentences, I jettisoned the whole first chapter entirely. It wasn't until I'd written the whole thing that I realized how unnecessary and info-dumpy that first chapter was - it set up so many things that were eventually explained in later chapters, but I wouldn't have been able to see that when I first started writing it. It was important for me to write it in the first place as part of the process, but ultimately not important at all to the eventual readers on my book.

    Don't worry at all about whether what you've got so far is working or not, it's too early to tell if you've started in the right place or not. The important thing is to keep writing and not get distracted by trying to make it "perfect" from the get go.
    marshipan, Rzero and Catrin Lewis like this.
  6. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Jan 28, 2014
    Likes Received:
    That's not too bad as a first line. It made me wonder what mistake she'd made and what would happen if "they" found out. It raised the expectation that the mistake was a jolly big one, not something fiddling like emailing her Math homework to her history teacher. It also made me expect that the week's lag time has only made the problem worse.

    Good for you! Next is to bring your readers into the consequences of the mistake and of her attempts to keep covering it up.

    If you decide not to keep this line as the opener, it might work as the intro to the blurb:

    It had been a week and they hadn't found out about her mistake.

    Marlena had always wanted to learn how to work hypercatenary magic, but her parents said that at 15 she was too young and it was too dangerous. But when she discovered the hidden book in Professor Sheldrake's study, she couldn't resist reciting the words that promised .... blah, blah, blah. But something went wrong, and .... blah, blah, blah. Will Marlena be able to reverse the spell and save the world from the chain of doom?

    You get the idea. Regardless, use the start you have as a jumping-off place. The novel I'm working on, I think I redid the beginning three or four times. It happens, and it's fine.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
    Rzero likes this.
  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
    Likes Received:
    I agree with the ones here who said to just keep writing. Perfecting that first couple of lines is important, but you're worrying about it way too soon. Get the whole story written. Until you do, you're not seeing the whole picture. The opening lines don't need to be particularly 'clever.' They do need to launch the story in the right direction. You may change your mind about a lot of things as you write the story, so the direction may change.

    Just looking at that first line, though ...I am never too intrigued by what I feel is unnecessary mystery at the start.

    Is there any reason why you're using 'they' rather than telling us who hasn't found the mistake? And does 'her' have a name? I wouldn't let this kind of vagueness go on for too long. Readers want to know, at the start, what the story is going to be about and who the players are. You will NOT lose any intrigue by naming the players. If you're going to reveal who 'they' are and who 'her' is within the next couple of paragraphs, why not do it right at the start? That way the reader can get straight into the story without all this preliminary throat-clearing.

    But as I said earlier, don't twist on this rope before the story is finished. Let it go for now, and keep writing.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice