Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to Not to Write Novel #8


Starting can be hard. It very often takes me a long, long time to edge up sideways to starting an idea. I have to "nerve up" in order to start a book or short story. And usually that means lots and lots of thinking. 

Sometimes it's just finding the right situation for the opening scene. Sometimes it's down to an opening line. Most of the time though I just have to think about it long enough to make starting possible. 

It ends up taking as long as it takes. But once I start the dam breaks and I can get going. But getting that first word on paper can be nerve wracking.

How do you start? With a scene? With an idea? Do you do a lot of pre-writing? 

7 comments:

Amy Reade said...

I think it depends on the story. Some stories are chomping at the bit to be written and you can't hold back any longer. Some take a long time to percolate before they're ready. I heard one writer at a conference recently say she researches until her hands start itching to write, and that's how she knows she's ready. Good luck on your next project!

Linda Thorne said...

My first (and 2nd unfinished novel) was started like Amy Reade says here: "Some stories are chomping at the bit to get out." Both of mine were doing that to me, but I've had to put my 2nd book on a back burner due to a lot of work at my HR job. If I ever get my 2nd finished, polished, and published, I really don't have anything else "chomping at the bit," so I'm clueless what will get me started writing the third. Che, you are doing well to have this many books. I love writing a novel much more than working in the human resources profession but, for me, writing a novel is damn hard. It's worth the effort, but oh so hard to do.

G. B. Miller said...

I've been fortunate in that most of my stories have either 1) bugged me to be written or 2) were already written but bugged me to rewrite them.

Almost without exception, I start with a scene & dialogue. It can be as simple as a phone conversation, a worker daydreaming about another co-worker or a wedding ceremony.

Father Nature's Corner

Charles Gramlich said...

It varies. sometimes the start just grabs me. Lots of times though I have to do quite a bit of thinking before something coalesces.

Maggie King said...

I start with the idea, but it takes me a while to assemble the characters and plot. It's like a giant puzzle with very small pieces.

Marissa Monteilh said...

LOL, looks VERY familiar, Che!

Liane Spicer said...

I don't do a lot of prewriting. In fact I rarely do any for short stories, and sometimes just a sketchy outline for novellas. But for full length novels I write a proper outline, character notes, etc. I can't even think of flying by the seat of my pants for a whole novel.

Getting started is HARD, but I don't believe in forcing things. Case in point: I had an idea for a historical short story years ago. It sat on my idea list until the end of 2015 when I finally settled down to write it, and I was having so much fun I kept writing. It became a series and outsold all my other titles in 2016. If I had forced the point and written it years ago that might not have happened.

Then there are the other stories like the one that came to me when I was in the middle of re-writing something entirely different. I stopped what I was doing and wrote it--and it went on to be shortlisted for an influential lit prize.

I guess I'm an anti-writer. I don't have a method, or a pattern. My only system is to let the stories develop organically. All the real writers say to write every day, and force yourself to write on that blank page...write anything at all. That does not work for me. When life is too distracting for me to write I focus on the publishing part of the business. When I get back to the writing I do it to the exclusion of everything else. I've written up to 8000 words in one day (I don't recommend that, though. Talk about burnout.)