Fiction, and novel writing in particular, can seem like a daunting task unless you have a clear plan to follow. There are so many pieces to keep track of: characterization, dialog, plots and subplots, multiple points of view, and more. It’s important to start things off in the right way because everything else you do will flow from that.
How to Get Started Right
In this post, I’m going to give you what you need to get started on writing your novel today. From my experience, it’s the first step that’s the hardest. Once you’ve got the first step down, you get excited about writing your novel and you have a better feeling for where you are headed so each step after that will be easier.
Step 1: What Do You Want To Write?
The first step in the process is to decide what you want to write. There are so many possibilities, so how do you decide? The answer is simple: write what you love to read. What kind of books do you love? That’s what you should write. Here’s why:
1. Since you’ve read a lot of novels in this genre, you are already very familiar with the way these books are written. As you’ve been reading, you’ve been automatically absorbing the structure of the stories, the kinds of conflicts and crises that come up in this type of fiction, and you know for sure what works and what doesn’t in this genre.
2. Since you love reading this kind of novel, you will love writing this kind of novel as well. And the enthusiasm and enjoyment you feel as you write will translate into your writing, making it fresh, vibrant, and real.
Step 2: Who’s the Lead of Your Novel?
Next, you decide on the main character for your novel. Just the basics to begin with: decide on the gender, age, and name of your Lead to help make them real to you. Follow the expectations of the genre you chose in step one as you decide. For example, if you’re writing a romance novel, you’ll generally have a women as the Lead.
Step 3: What’s the Crisis?
Every novel has a major crisis that the Lead has to face early on in the story. Evan Marshall, the literary agent and author, points out some key characteristics that your crisis should have to ensure that you come up with a great basic premise for your novel:
1. It should be appropriate to your genre
2. It should turn your Lead’s life upside down
3. It should capture your imagination and make you want to know more
Step 4: What’s Your Lead Going To Do About It?
In response to this crisis, your Lead has to decide how they will solve this problem. They set an overarching story goal that they will pursue throughout your novel, but not achieve until the very end.
I like the following four criteria for this goal that Marshall suggests. Working within the expectations of your genre, he recommends that your goal should be about:
1. Trying to get something that your Lead really wants or getting relief from something they really don’t want.
2. High stakes: there should be terrible consequences if they fail.
3. Your Lead’s motivation must be worthy and admirable so your readers like them and are rooting for them to succeed.
4. Impossible odds: the problems should be so difficult that it should seem almost impossible for your Lead to succeed.
If you develop your novel idea using these guidelines, you are sure to come up with an idea that inspires and engages you. That’s the most important step. This basic story idea will carry you through plotting and writing the rest of your novel. If you take the time to come up with an idea that you love, it will be the seed from which your wonderful novel will grow.
More Tips For Novel Writing
Evan Marshall has developed a great system for fiction novel writing that guides you step-by-step through the whole process of writing your novel from start to finish. If you’re interested in writing a compelling, powerful page-turner with the potential to become a best-seller, I highly recommend that you check it out. You can learn more about his system through this link: Marshall Plan novel writing. His system will really help you enjoy the process of writing your novel.
I think you might also be interested in my blog about how I’ve been using the Marshall Plan Novel Writing software to develop my novel idea.