Beginning Your Novel

Beginning Your Novel

Beginning your novel  is like the prelude to sex for the first time.

reptile-398073__180Your blood begins to rush, your toes curl up and your every nerve is on fire. What will happen? Will it be fun and exciting? Will I be disappointed? Will it be memorable?

Just like sex, you believe you have control over the situation but in the throes of passion who knows what can happen. In the same way, as you sit at your desk plotting and planning the characters you are bringing to life suddenly take off with a mind of their own and begin telling their own story.  If the muses align you may be in sync with them but don’t count on it.

white rabbitI wonder whether the White Rabbit called the shots when he pulled Lewis Carroll or was it Alice? down the rabbit hole.

Let your fingers do the walking over your keyboard and see where it takes you. Sometimes, though, after the initial excitement at the idea of beginning your novel, you run cold.

What now? I had the nucleus of an idea; I had a character in mind and that’s all. Nothing seems to be germinating. What to do? This is where some guidance can help.

Novel Basics

Figure out what genre you want to write – is it fantasy, romance, mystery, thriller, young adult or middle grade? There are even more genres but those are probably the most well known.

  • If the last time you read a kid’s book was when you were a kid, chances are that’s not the genre you should dip your fingers into.
  • If you enjoy reading romances, you will probably understand the plots that are generally employed – girl meets boy, there’s a problem, there are more problems, lots of misunderstanding, lots of sex and finally all is well and the couple lives happily ever after.
  • If you dislike murders and feel squeamish about blood, chances are murder mysteries are not for you.

Parse one of your favorite novels and discover what makes it tick, then start coming up with a plot. Sometimes even trying to copy a classic will set you off down the right path. Within a chapter or two, you’ll begin to find your own voice, your characters will begin to talk to you and the rest will be a yarn worth publishing. And no, you will not be plagiarizing – you’ll be surprised how quickly the story turns into your own. Change the names of the characters, the setting and a new plot will evolve in your mind.

Let me know how you begin your novels.


2016 Creative Writing Classes at Beyond-The-Lamppost

Tues. afternoons January 12 – March 29 in Oakville “Shaping Your Story

Wed. afternoons January 13 – March 30 in Oakville “Get Your Story Finished

Thurs. afternoons January 14 – March 3 in Oakville “Almost there: Revising & Rewriting Your Manuscript


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