the whole story: how to start your novel

Always harboured a dream of writing a novel? I’ll be sharing my writing tips here. Let’s start with…  how to start!

 

Tea: check. Positive affirmations: check. Computer: check. And...go!
Tea: check. Positive affirmations: check. Computer: check. And…go!

ponder, plot and plan

I used to be the writer who wanted to just ‘See where the characters take me’. After 3 failed attempts I realised that wasn’t very far. Writing an extensive 10,000 word plot summary of Miracle on Regent Street to secure my first book deal taught me that planning is a writer’s best friend. Without it you’re writing sentences, not a story. Once I have my idea, I write a detailed synopsis, then I plot each chapter on post-it notes and stick them on a pin board in my shed. Things might change, but this visual aid gives me a sense of direction.

 

Post-it plot
Post-it plot

start at the very beginning… a very good place to start

Oh the times I’ve wailed over a blank Word doc; paralysed about whether I can write the whole book when all I had to do was focus on writing something.
Tip: I find starting by writing individual ‘scenes’ throws me straight into the action and stops me agonising over those opening chapters. I write a new scene every day and on a new document so I’m not tempted to waste time re-reading and endlessly editing what I did the day before. I give myself a maximum time period of 1-2 hours to do 1000 words in. It’s made me a much happier – and more productive author.

Writing individual ‘scenes’ throws me straight into the action and stops me agonising over those opening chapters.

write, every day.

If you want writing to be more than a whimsical dream, treat it like a job. That doesn’t sound very romantic, I know, but the truth is, nor is writing books. It’s hard work: wonderful, fulfilling work, but work, nonetheless. Be disciplined and write every day: even when Peaky Blinders is on, its glorious weather outside or you don’t ‘feel’ like it. (Disclosure: authors rarely ‘feel’ like it either!)

 

Dream. Sit. Write. Repeat.
Dream. Sit. Write. Repeat.

 

3 essential tools every* writer needs before they* start writing

*I

  1. A coffee machine or a lifetime supply of teabags and biscuits
  2. Wine: it’s the best plot-solving device (until the next morning when you re-read it all).
  3. A dog/friend/child/partner/family member/bike/horse/personal trainer who will get you out of the house for at least an hour every day. Ideas are often found away from your computer.
Step away from your laptop and let the idea come.
Step away from your laptop and let the ideas come.

 

 

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