Author Topic: Question on how to start a novel  (Read 2631 times)

Offline Sherlock

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2017, 12:41:06 AM »
AQ, thank you.   I hope I am learning my way to keep within the rules.  Thank you for your comments.   I'm  going to just write and see how it turns out and after reading others' stories to get a better grasp on editing, I will post in the right section!

Geoffnelder, I guess I will have threads coming together and I will have to determine if my opening will grab readers so they will want to read more.

Ann Marie, Romney,  and Lamont Cranston, Thanks for taking the time.  I liked the comment about not just having action for the sake of action.    I know I am willing to read beginningsome where things aren't blowing up if it is believe able and going somewhere.

Offline lamont cranston

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2017, 07:34:14 PM »
Just write it.  Start it how you think it should start and just keep writing.  It will probably change a lot between now and when you're done anyway.  

Lin

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2017, 05:42:59 AM »
It is hard to lose what you think are your best opening lines. I must have changed mine at least ten times. It's a good idea to go through the first chapter and pick out what you think is a stunner of a line and start there. Then weave into the story what you wrote in the beginning, but keep doing a raincheck to make sure it's not too much.

However, having said that, I am an avid reader of the author, Annie Murray, and have just read, 'Meet me Under the Clock.' She starts with the life of a family disjointed due to the war. I wondered if my own book was going to be a bit 'backstory' but when I read Annie's work, she somehow makes it so interesting, that the family history doesn't feel she is putting off telling the story. I find her work very inspirational.

So the moral of the story is, 'it's not what you do, but the way you do it.' Writing backstory before the main action can pull the reader toward boredom before it begins. If you weave backstory into the action, then it becomes more interesting and the reader wants to read on. It's all a case of balance. I do try to put in some conflict, in the beginning, to make the reader want it to change and therefore read on to see if it happens. When writing, there has to be a certain amount of psychology in your head on behalf of the reader, which I believe, you are doing that anyway.

Just keep on writing and see what transpires. You can always change it and be prepared to do lots of that. I've just changed a whole chapter of twelve pages. I am now satisfied that it works better. Don't be afraid to make changes and finally good luck, I wish you well. :D

Lin  


Offline HPvD

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2017, 09:58:34 AM »
I usually don't work on such large writing projects,
and I don't have any actual completed Novels myself yet,

I do however have several 'Partials' with only short outlines some ideas
for characters, some written scenes etc. etc.

I also have read articles and books about writing Novels, and as I understand
a possible technique to start with is to just write about what you want
your Novel to be, and than just starting up your 'Writing engine'
than afterwards after writing, start with summarizing the things
you wrote and further start organizing your writing.

To your Happy<i> - Writing -</i> Inspiration, http://hpshappywriting2.blogspot.com

Offline DRP22

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2017, 10:40:37 AM »
Some people have shared the, "Just shut up and start writing," technique. I think there's some truth to that.

I'm not sure if anyone will agree with this, but I've heard it explained like this:

Writing is like sculpting. You add and subtract using the tools you have available, carving in details here, smoothing out faults there.
And you refine, and refine, and refine until you're satisfied (or at least convinced it's acceptable).
But before any of that, you need material to work with. You can't refine what isn't there. When you're cranking out that first draft,
it's like you're just slapping clay down on the table, giving yourself something to work with.

Anywho, that's how I've been looking at it.

Jo Bannister

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2017, 01:52:16 PM »
I don't have any actual completed Novels myself yet.
I do however have several 'Partials' with only short outlines some ideas
for characters, some written scenes etc. etc.

I imagine a lot of our contributors will identify with HPvD's situation.  In fact, it's probably true to say we've all been there.

You might be interested in the result of a study of writers' habits made a few years ago by (I think: correct me if I'm wrong) the Society of Authors.  The conclusion was that, while both amateur writers and those who had a reasonable claim to be professional approached the task in a variety of ways, the thing that divided them most noticeably was that professional writers almost always finished what they started.  They did not end up with drawers full of projects begun but never completed.  They finished the work, almost always, even if they were doubtful of its commercial potential, before starting something else.

I mention this not in any sense as a criticism, but because it might remind those with ambitions for their writing of the need to stay focused.   

Offline Shortcross

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2017, 04:21:37 PM »
I think I'm guilty of that, Jo.

I have two WIPs on the go at the moment. The first (a fantasy) was written like a true pantster - no planning, just a vague idea of what the story was going to be about (in fact, I only had a single scene in my mind) - and just started writing. After 30k words, I really like some of the scenes, but as a whole they are disjointed, there are huge structural issues with the plot, and it ended up as a shelved project.

Second WIP: I saw a comment by H3K about using the snowflake method to plot out a novel. So, I bought a book on it and spent about three weeks planning out in great detail the plot, scenes, characters, and the world the characters inhabit. Begun writing it - after 500 words, the MC's name had changed. After scene one, I didn't know who he was anymore and the whole thing had seriously derailed from what I'd planned.

I'm now thinking of going back to the first WIP and applying the snowflake method in retrospect, sort of thing. Lots of material to work with and I totally understand the characters - it just needs some structure. I have a feeling that this may be my modus operandi going forward (blag 20-30k words, get to know the world and people in it, then apply structure).

Shorty

Offline K.L. Ravns

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2017, 08:16:57 PM »
I tried to start with writing chapter one as soon as I finished my outline and then I stared at the blank page for two weeks. I kept telling myself I wanted to explore the scene in chapter 2 when two characters meet but was forcing myself to attempt to write chapter 1 with no luck. I began chapt 2 and now I'm 15k words into my novel and have a much more detailed outline. I still haven't gone back to the beginning because it does not feel right at the moment. Who knows it might not feel right until I finish the rest. In the first chapter the character is dealing with a pretty deep depression and I haven't quite figured out how to write that. My hope is  that by discovering who she really is in the coming chapters will make writing that chapter easier. I find using square brackets helps when I want to quickly move on. This way I can write a word I know I need a synonym for or something I need to research. I usually highlight for where I need to enter a description for a place or character. Find whatever works for you. After writing the scene I was dying to write I dove into research. I figured out 5 locations and their layouts, settings etc. The character discovers she is a witch so I did a lot of research on that. I also developed my main characters and expanded my scene list. What I am really trying to say is do what feels right for you and the pieces will start to come together. 

Offline K.L. Ravns

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2017, 08:27:36 PM »
I think I'm guilty of that, Jo.

I have two WIPs on the go at the moment. The first (a fantasy) was written like a true pantster - no planning, just a vague idea of what the story was going to be about (in fact, I only had a single scene in my mind) - and just started writing. After 30k words, I really like some of the scenes, but as a whole they are disjointed, there are huge structural issues with the plot, and it ended up as a shelved project.

Second WIP: I saw a comment by H3K about using the snowflake method to plot out a novel. So, I bought a book on it and spent about three weeks planning out in great detail the plot, scenes, characters, and the world the characters inhabit. Begun writing it - after 500 words, the MC's name had changed. After scene one, I didn't know who he was anymore and the whole thing had seriously derailed from what I'd planned.


I found this works for me. I started out with the snowflake method but I didn't completely delve into my characters (just a basic description and goal) after 10k I went back and adjusted my summaries and created character descriptions. I plan on doing this multiple times throughout the process to see where the story has gone and address any plot holes.

I'm now thinking of going back to the first WIP and applying the snowflake method in retrospect, sort of thing. Lots of material to work with and I totally understand the characters - it just needs some structure. I have a feeling that this may be my modus operandi going forward (blag 20-30k words, get to know the world and people in it, then apply structure).

Shorty

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2017, 06:45:02 AM »
I tried to start with writing chapter one as soon as I finished my outline and then I stared at the blank page for two weeks. I kept telling myself I wanted to explore the scene in chapter 2 when two characters meet but was forcing myself to attempt to write chapter 1 with no luck. I began chapt 2 and now I'm 15k words into my novel and have a much more detailed outline. I still haven't gone back to the beginning because it does not feel right at the moment. Who knows it might not feel right until I finish the rest. In the first chapter the character is dealing with a pretty deep depression and I haven't quite figured out how to write that.

By the time you reach the end you may well find, as many of us have over the years, that you don't even need what you originally imagined as the first chapter.  You may find that just the occasional back reference to her previous depression is more than enough.  Whatever the problem the real story usually starts when the character begins to fight back against the odds.

On the subject of witchcraft, as your own research may have shown you, there are two distinct schools whatever their labels.  Like Christianity there are those who love rituals and ceremonies, and there are those who 'just do it'.

The incense and chanting schools of thought are very seductive to write about.  Rather like the action adventure writer who reels off pages of weapon details to 'add realism'. The more research you've done the more you will be tempted to use it in your story.  Sometimes to excess.)

The practical practitioners don't hide behind layers of mumbo-jumbo, so there is less verbal baggage to pad out your writing.   But written well the pragmatic approach is far more convincing.  The pragmatists are far more likely to be solitary practitioners rather than members of a coven.  To them it is a gift - sometimes a burden - rather than a social club.

As a writer you can make witchcraft whatever you want it to be.  All you have to do is make it believable for the readers.

Gyppo  
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline K.L. Ravns

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2017, 08:48:19 AM »

The practical practitioners don't hide behind layers of mumbo-jumbo, so there is less verbal baggage to pad out your writing.   But written well the pragmatic approach is far more convincing.  The pragmatists are far more likely to be solitary practitioners rather than members of a coven.  To them it is a gift - sometimes a burden - rather than a social club.

As a writer you can make witchcraft whatever you want it to be.  All you have to do is make it believable for the readers.

Gyppo  




Offline DonaldScranton

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Re: Question on how to start a novel
« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2017, 01:13:28 AM »
I like to think of the opening of a novel as a sample of what's to come. It should set up the setting, premise, main character, and main conflict. Wrap that up into a story within a story and I think you have yourself a pretty good opening.

Oh, of course, it doesn't hurt to flaunt your ability to wield words beautifully. I find that if I'm not captivated by the authors style, a unique style, I assume it's a story I've already read. After all, they say there's only seven different stories (or something like that) and everything else is simply variation.