The Starting Line

So, I’m in a delicate situation at the moment.

I find myself standing in an operating room waiting to operate on a patient. There’s just a small problem… I’m not a surgeon. I’ve never even held a scalpel.

“Doctor, are you ready?” My nurse asks, holding out the scalpel to me.

“No.” I answer, taking the sharp device from her. My hand is shaking already.

What do I do? Where do I cut? I don’t even know why this man is on the operating table. Am I doing open heart surgery or is it a simple mole removal? I don’t know… How can I? I’m not a surgeon.

My heart rate increases and I feel like I’m about to pass out. The world is slowly going black and then BAM!

I’m sitting at my desk with my laptop in front of me. Microsoft Word is open to a blank page and I realize that I’m not starting a surgery. I’m starting a new novel, but it kind of feels the same. I’m scared and panicking.

When you start a novel there are so many emotions that go through you. It can get overwhelming and it can seem impossible. I’m here to say, “Don’t give up!” Of course I say that mostly to myself as I make the hard journey of writing a novel.

You see, today I started a new novel… well, it isn’t exactly new. I’ve had the idea in my mind for a while and have several word documents saved with bits of character development and world building and plot brainstorming on my laptop. I’m just at the point where I need to actually start writing on it, and I’m on an emotional roller coaster.

This blog post (and most likely the ones that come later) is mostly going to be about my journey through writing this novel. You see, if I post online the things that I’m doing as I write, I’m accountable for my writing and I won’t give up. And if you happen to get anything out of this, then fantastic! I love you guys!

Now, it’s important that you know that there is no right way to start a novel. These are just a few ways that I (and my friends) start writing on a new novel idea.

TAKE SHELTER FROM THE BRAINSTORM

Look at those clouds on the horizon! This one’s going to be HUGE. You’d better get down in your storm cellar. If you don’t have one, jump into your bathtub with a mattress over you because this storm is so big it will tear your house apart!

Okay, so maybe that’s not the best metaphor, but to me a brainstorm is pretty mess. I can have an entire notebook full of random bits of information that make no sense at all (actually I do have several notebooks like this). This is my personal favorite method of starting a story. To me, there is nothing better than having a notebook and pen and jotting down all the ideas for the story. I write every little thing down, from character names to a random eye color.

Like I said, bits of information that make no sense at all… except that’s not entirely true, is it? If I were to open one of those notebooks and start reading, I would know exactly what it’s talking about.

Basically for brainstorming, I like to have one large info dump that I will go through and organize later. At the moment, I just want to get the ideas out of my head.

This can be done through a variety of ways. Make a list, thought map, freewriting, and plot points are just a few of those ways that I have used in my brainstorming.

MAKE WAY FOR THE TIMELINE

Also known and an outline.

This way of starting a novel is more for the logical writers. They know what they want to happen, and when they want it to happen. I’m not overly fond of the timeline, but I have used it before with a few short stories.

This way of starting a novel is very organized and usually involves bullet points or roman numerals. Very academic.

Basically, it’s a list of events that happen in your novel in the order that they happen in. I actually do use timeline’s a lot, but not usually until I’m getting ready to do my second draft. I will go through my first draft and list the plot and sub plot points in the order that they happen so that I stay on course for the rewrite.

I’M NOT WEARING ANY PANTS

My least favorite way to start a novel is to pants it. By this I mean you don’t do any (or very little) planning before sitting down and writing the novel.

There really isn’t much else to say about this way of starting a novel. You just dive right in and never look back.

I suppose it could be efficient for some people, but to me it’s just a little too messy. You don’t do any character development before you start, you don’t plan anything that happens in the plot, and you leave lots of plot holes (at least I did the one time I used this method).

Anyway, those are three of the most common ways to start writing a novel. I’m using the brainstorm method for the novel that I started today. I’ve already got half a notebook full of information I want to go into this story. Of course this story is only one story that will happen in the world that I’m creating, so not all of that will be included in this story.

Anyway, Thanks for reading. Leave me a comment on the ways that you start writing a novel (or a short story or a poem or whatever).

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