Friday, 2 March 2012

How To Start A Novel


Starting a novel is not for the faint hearted. I mean you don't just open a notebook or a new word document and just write. Of course you don't. It's far more complicated than that. There are steps to take, and in the right order too.

  1. Buy a new notebook. Preferably Moleskine, and if you can get a limited edition one, then all the better. In case anyone is interested, the Lego editions will be out soon. And, yes, I have pre-ordered mine.
  2. Once you have said pristine notebook and have shown everyone it's beauty, then you must make notes. And cut out pictures and stick them in. I find Ben Barnes comes in quite handy at this stage. And you can find nice fonts for the title of the novel and you must print that out and stick it in. And then show everyone all that too. Trust me, they will be impressed.
  3. Plan the novel. This starts off as a wild collection of words that loosely resemble a story but you scrawl them in your notebook and it all starts to get exciting and  oh my goodness you really might HAVE something here!
  4. But you don't write it yet. Oh, no. Too early.
  5. So you think that you really can't crack on unless you have a dedicated software package. Scrivener is a good one. And you get a jolly long trial period too. And a long video on how to use it, which you will not watch all the way through or understand. So you ask a lovely friend who knows, like Liz de Jager.
  6. Then you really get going. Did you know Scrivener has templates for character sketches and setting sketches? Well it would be rude not to fill them out. And then you open other folders for research and notes and more character stuff and, oh I don't know, journal entries. And this is nearly it. You are so very nearly writing the new novel.
  7. So, in Scrivener, you open the manuscript template only you don't like the look of it and you don't like the font and it seems a bit weird typing on something that isn't a word document. So you don’t start writing yet because there's formatting and stuff to do.
  8. Now you panic. Only a bit though. I mean are you ready to begin? Have you done enough? Do you know the plot? Do you know your characters? Do you have The Voice?
  9. So you tell everyone on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ that you’re starting a novel, that you are #amwriting and they're all impressed and they cheer you on and it's great and lovely only...you haven't actually written a word.
  10. So there's only one thing left to do. JUST WRITE!

25 comments:

  1. I was going to go with 'It was a dark and stormy night...'

    :-p

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  2. Once upon a time....

    I love this post Sue as I can empathise with it so much. Except the Scrivener - haven't tried that yet. But am definitely with you on the Moleskine.

    Am now off to be #amwriting ;-)

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    1. You should try it. I'm rather fond of it now and everything is in one place so you look as though you've achieved loads!

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  3. Okay, I was laughing my head off by number four.

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  4. Great advice. Just one question - should I put the kettle on before or after Facebook?

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    1. Knew I'd forgotten a vital step! I forgot to mention the tea/wine/chocolate stages!

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  5. Great post! Your novel premise sounds so exciting, even as a series of random notes. Hurry up and write it!

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    1. Gulp! You mean I actually have to do it?!

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  6. You make Scrivener sound strangely attractive...

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    1. It is. I'm rather fond of it now. And it looks all professional.

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  7. I love this blogpost! I howled aloud at work. And yes, all the pretty moleskines are a must. I don't mean to panic you, but do you have post-its to help you with planning? And also highlighters for when you do your editing?

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    1. I have no post-its! No wonder I've only written 68 words!

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    2. Must go out to the shops immediately!

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  8. LOL! Very Funny and just what I needed today. Great Post!

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  9. LOL! Brilliant post, Sue! Have you progressed yet from 68 words - do tell, I can't bear the suspense of not knowing! :-)

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  10. What about going to an art shop and buying a fancy wirebound scrapbook and lovely pens to write in it and then lots of postcards that might just set the mood? Then, of course, you have to lay them out before you stick them in and caption them - not to mention the cuttings you have torn & trimmed from any number of sources. Hours of fun/necessary preparation.

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    Replies
    1. You're so right. It IS necessary! :-)

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  11. Great stuff, Sue. And not a million miles from where my current novel started although you missed the one where you're mulling it over in the car when you nearly hit a squirrel/deer/cat/wall/supply-your-own-impediment. That's my personal favourite and has worked for a few of my WIPS.

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    1. Have yet to try that one. Thanks for pointing it out!

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  12. I think you'll find step ten is blog about it ;-)

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  13. thank god it's not just me!
    i'm still at the 'thinking' about it stage. that should keep me from writing for another year, or so.

    btw, i hope you are still keeping well.

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  14. nice opinion.. thanks for sharing....

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