How would one go about starting to write a novel?

34 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    First identify what excites you - what do you get obsessed about? What sends your mind into a fit of fantasy? What do you like to talk about? (Or what do you most wish you could find someone to talk to about?) When you identify something of this sort, write it down. Make a list. Keep in mind that this is a brainstorming exercise, so don't censor yourself. Don't tell yourself anything like "No one would be interested in this" or "No one would ever publish this" or "I'd be too embarrassed if my grandma read this" or anything critical of this sort. Just put the ideas down no matter how crazy they may seem. Once you have a list, you can start by telling yourself that your novel will somehow include some or maybe all of these elements. This should get your juices flowing. (One of the secrets of poetry is that the restrictive structure forces you to tap into your creative capacities. So you might consider setting up some fairly absurd, arbitrary rules for yourself – like picking 20 words at random from a dictionary and including them all in your first paragraph, or whatever. You might ultimately discard this paragraph, but jump-starting your creative mind in this fashion can be a great way to get your fingers moving.)

    Getting back to your list of obsessions…I once read a novel about a guy obsessed with fantasy baseball (this was back before home computers, so these games were played with cards, game boards, and dice). Now if you think about it critically, this would seem like one of the most boring possible ideas – basically a whole novel about a nerd playing a board game all by himself. But the novel was published and got some pretty good reviews. My point is this: If you are obsessed and fascinated by something, and you write about it (no matter how obscure or quirky it may be), and if you are a reasonably good writer, then there is a reasonable chance that others will find it interesting too.

    But the bottom line is to do exactly what Michael Crichton said, you just need to sit down and face the computer screen (or whatever) every day. You will probably have to write 100,000 words before you really figure out what it is you are writing about. That's a lot of work that you end up mostly sending to the trash can, but for the majority of us it is an essential part of the process.

    Now the really big question is this: How do I get myself to follow my own advice?

  • 1 decade ago

    Since you didn't ask how to _write_ a novel, but rather how to _start_ writing a novel, I'll answer a little differently from other folks: Don't sit in front of your computer thinking about the whole book and everything you want to say. Begin with a key notion -- something that you believe will be central to your book, or to one of the characters in your book. Write about that, and do it at some length. Don't edit and "fix" things as you go; just keep writing.

    After a few days of doing that regularly, then (and only then) go back and review your work. Does it now "speak" to you? Does it help clarify where you want this book to go? If it does, keep going. If it doesn't, identify why not and work on fixing that. Either way, you will have _started_ your novel.

    Then -- as they say in the movies -- rinse, repeat. If you keep at it, you may also _finish_ your novel.

  • 1 decade ago

    Write about what you know -- about what you feel -- and about how you are feeling it. If you have an active imagination you can elaborate on these points -- decide on a main character -- create him/her. How tall, body build, eye color, general background, good points and bad points, etc. Decide on a general setting or settings (places you have been are would like to go so much you have been there in your minds eye a hundred plus times. After you have written this all down -- read what you have written -- You have created a character and a place/places for that character to be. You have begun on the journey of writing your novel.

    Anyway if I was to write a novel -- that's how I would begin --

    I had a very good teacher -- once upon a time....

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, Blarney

    I have written a scary book named "This Old House": a book set in 1931, during the Great Depression, about a man, named Evan (and his girlfriend, named Jennifer) who inherits a mansion from his eccentric grandmother. After they move in, they realize the eccentricity of Evan's grandmother: ther are staircases going directly to the ceiling, doors leading in circles and other unusual adjustments. And they discover the horrifying past of his grandmother and the ghosts that haunted the house.

    You must first think of an idea for a book, then come up with a plot. Form the characters with backgrounds that support and give to the plot and idea. Then write it. And stay at it, I know it gets boring typing for so long but if you keep at it you will finaly succed.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I start out by realizing that I have a mood that needs to be explained in some story form. Then I imagine that I have an alternative personality that is going through the story.

    Then, I sit down at the computer, and look at my blank screen while imagining myself as my alternative personality in this fictional world, and start typing out words until the right ones come.

    This may not work for you, but if it does...that's great. I just perfer to get the mood right so that everything else falls into place.

    There were tons of answers already posted here, so don't just take my word for it.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I have written two but no luck with publishing. They were probably a bit basic.

    Think of an idea for a plot and write down in short sentences where you see it progressing. Break it up into Introduction, middle plot and end. Write down how you see it ending. Pick out names for your initial characters and write them down with their descriptions, ages etc.

    Then start such "as Jack was making his way up to the top of the hill and was aware that he was being followed"

    You can then let your imagination take over and keep writing. When you have places in known towns get the road names correct, keep a track of all characters you introduce with a wall chart in front of you.

    Before going for the novel try a short story first, then a longer one and progress from there. When you do have it published why not put a dedication ANF and I will know who wrote it.

    Best of luck and enjoy your Christmas.

  • 1 decade ago

    Have the idea then write it down,(lost the napkins?) write it down again and not on disposable paper this time. Figure out your writing area you will be there quite a lot. Make it comfortable it should work with you, not against you. Take your time unless your name is Michael Crichton or Stephen King. And research your subject thoroughly that always benefits the writer and the reader. Try to envision the story how it should play out,will it begin with a bang or a slow simmer..... Now get to it we need more reading material ASAP! All the best with your novel journey


    .·´ ¸.·★¨) ¸.·☆¨)

    ★(¸.·´ (¸.*´ ¸.·´

    `·-☆ ~*Angel M*~

    Source(s): scribbled a few things on that dispossible paper still looking for the ending...
  • 1 decade ago

    For me, it's having the story to tell, initially....then giving myself time and solitude to write! During the times I write....I can literally sit at the computer for hours, typing away and forgetting anything outside my thoughts, my screen, my keyboard exist! Starting is never the's stopping, for me anyway. Before I got a computer years ago, I'd start with an idea, writing points about the story I was telling on paper, and go from, it's just as easy to sit down, open MS Word, and go to town! Good luck, and Merry Christmas! :)

  • 1 decade ago

    Bring a dictionary and thesaurus and lock yourself away from everybody. Start with an idea that interests you and brainstorm. Make a rough draft of events that would make a story and develop it from there. Be descriptive and vivid with the words you use so that the reader feels like they are there. Start with a short story to get the feel for things. Be careful to stay on topic in each paragraph, you don't want to confuse anybody with what you are trying to say.

  • 1 decade ago

    You have received lots of good advice on this topic.

    I will add two more snippets.

    I) Don't waffle on with descriptive prose. Concentrate on story and character, but mainly story.

    2) Writing a novel is a huge undertaking. Chained to a keyboard/typewriter for 2/3 years, going over the same stuff, is no fun. Believe me.

    I wish you well.

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