Saturday, June 9, 2012

5 Secrets to Beginning a New Novel

Since I am in the process of beginning a new novel, I wanted to let you in on a few secrets I have discovered through the years when it comes to writing a great book.

Here they are:

Know the Basics of Plot

1. Before you start, know who the main and secondary characters will be, the setting and a pretty good idea of the plot. Remember, I said a PRETTY GOOD idea. Something happens to me when I write; suddenly, the characters take over and the plot changes, and in fact, becomes better. Leave yourself open to change as you write.

Photo by Paul B, courtesy of Flickr

2. Get a bit of research done. I am TERRIBLE at this one and so what happens is that I'm writing about a cruise ship that is about to dock in Hawaii. Here are a few things I needed to know right away because a murder had been committed on board. How does the Honolulu Police Department function? What do their uniforms look like? How large is a typical department? What about lawyers? How do they dress? How do they perform? What of cruise ship negligence? What's a famous recipe in Hawaii that has eggs in it? And the list goes on...Once this information is at your fingertips you can write without having to stop mid-sentence to figure something out.  


3. Keep in mind that your reader wants to be involved right away. I first began my story with some reflection on why Susan (my main character) was taking this cruise, but quickly discovered that the better beginning would involve the reader in some action-- and so a murder was created.

Move forward

4. Try not to correct as you go unless you realize early on that you've bungled the beginning like I did. Keep writing and try not to go back on what you've written until at least the next day, and then only go back a page or two to refresh your mind.

Photo by J. Chris Vaughan, courtesy of Flickr
Take a break

5. If the muse quits on you, take a break, and then go back to your work. Your writing will be better. I like to take 15 minute breaks or use the time to do a writing exercise unrelated to the book I am working on.

When it comes to the beginning of your book, you not only need to make it captivating but realistic. Keeping your facts straight will lend credibility with your readers and moving forward and taking the breaks when you need them will get that book finished before you know it.

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