Today, we’re here to talk about how to start a novel.
While blogging, one of my joys has been making friends. Over the years and despite the miles, someone on the other side of the world can become a real friend, in the truest sense of the term. Once such friend is Michael Dellert. We’ve beta-read and edited for each other, chatted on twitter, and mercilessly teased each other to bits. If you ask me, he’s as real as any friend in my ‘real’ life.
He’s here to take over my blog for today and the next Tuesday, and share some of his wisdom on writing (I’ve highlighted the stuff I like in blue!). Take it away, Michael!
Before I start, I just want to say a big thank you to Damyanti for having me here on The Daily (W)rite. I’ve been a fan-boy of her work since I met her in the blogosphere last year, and it’s an honor to be featured here. And that, as they say, is burying the lead, and a prime example of what I wanted to talk about today: Starting Your Novel.
Back on my own blog, I’ve been walking my readers through my own thirteen week process for writing a novel. It took seven weeks just to get us to the official kick-off of the #13WeekNovel Challenge. Why? Because one doesn’t jump out of bed one day and decide to run a marathon. One has to practice, prepare, and most importantly, train. Writing a novel is no different. One has to set time aside, cut down hours at the office, bribe one’s partner to do the yard-work, and buy the kids enough video games to keep them in their rooms until they go off to university. One has to limber up, with writing exercises every day, and study the field by reading every day.
But if you’ve done all those things already, you’re now faced with the problem of how to start a novel. You know you want to write one, but heck if you know what the silly thing is going to be about. No problem. No special equipment needed. You just need the desire to write. Leonard Bishop, author of Down All Your Streets, The Butchers, and The Everlasting, once famously said, “Writing begets writing.” And he’s right. So, even if you don’t yet have a seed of an idea, here’s how to start a novel:
- Write about something unusual you saw yesterday.
- Write about the first time you did something.
- Try to imagine how your parents met.
- Write about the worst date you ever had.
- Write about something you love to do.
- Describe the view from your window.
- Write a letter to a friend (sending it is optional; feel free to write the forbidden).
- Imagine what your life would be like if it were perfect.
- Summarize the plot of your favorite novel or movie (it doesn’t matter if you get it exactly right).
- Write the words to as many Broadway (or Beatles or Elvis or Bollywood) songs as you can remember.
This is the list of writing prompts I keep on my desk as “jump-starts” to keep me from wasting my time when I sit down to write. If I come to the desk completely cold in the morning, with nothing new on the horizon and no idea what to write about (and it does happen, far too often), I pick off the first thing on the list and get started. I follow it as far as it wants to lead me, then move on to the second thing, and then the third, and so on. In thirty years, I’ve never gotten as far as number 10. Why? Because somewhere in those ten writing prompts is the seed of a story idea. Could it lead you to start a novel? Could it be your novel? Try them and find out.
But beware “The Saboteur.” We’ll talk about Him next week!
Michael E. Dellert is an award-winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach with a publishing career spanning 18 years. He currently works as an independent freelancer. He is the author of the fantasy fiction novella, Hedge King in Winter: First Tale in the Matter of Manred, now available from Amazon for print and Kindle, and from Barnes & Noble for Nook, and will soon be announcing the release of his next work, A Merchant’s Tale: The Second Tale in the Matter of Manred. He lives in the Greater New York City area.
What about you? Do you want to start a novel or have a novel-in-progress? What do You do to get yourself started when the writing juices just aren’t flowing? Finished a novel and have tips for those who want to do the same? Do you have questions for Michael on how to start your novel? Have at it in the comments!
Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you would like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the Follow button in the sidebar. (I’ll move to my own domain soon, and haven’t ever thought of creating a mailing list, so I’m counting on everyone who wants to stay in touch to subscribe to this blog via email!)