HOW TO START WRITING A NOVEL

Or, How I Start Writing a Novel. Your mileage may vary.
  1. The thing you're obsessed with. The question about people or relationships that's rattling around in your head. Corral them into the writer part of your brain where you can move them around like a Rubik's cube.
    This part is the most difficult to explain. But basically it's taking things that I'm questioning and interested in and throwing them on a mental pottery wheel and seeing if I can shape them into something cohesive. Recently I've been thinking a lot about trust and relationships and also AI. Is there a story there? Maybe.
  2. Research
    Honestly, my favorite part. I Google and fall into Wiki holes, I read articles and books, sometimes getting old timey and getting material from the library. With my library card! I like my stories to be as grounded as possible and want to get details right, so I Google and read the shit out of everything (within reason - otherwise this just turns into procrastination).
  3. Characters
    This project is a little different because I'm using a secondary character from a book I finished earlier this year (ABW - always be writing, this ish takes hella time to get out in the world) and making her the protag for this one. So I have a handle on this chick already. And I have a basic idea of her world and my settings. But my other favorite thing is going on baby name websites and shopping for character names. SO FUN.
  4. Quick and dirty outlining
    I like to have plot points laid out but I don't like to get into specifics of each scene (the way screenwriters tend to outline) and in my first pass I'll do a VERY broad, bullet points kind of thing, in the legal pad where I've been scribbling notes and thoughts from research. This is maybe a page or two long.
  5. Proper outline
    I do this on the floor on index cards. I summarize pretty much every major plot and emotional beat, as well as where I'll need to layer in background/exposition. When I have it all, I tack it to the wall with that blue poster silly putty. Note: I've done this and then started writing only to find my structure isn't working or I've thought of something better. In that case, I abandon it and work without a net. Weeee!
  6. Check if there's any way you can stall or procrastinate
    There isn't. Aside from making a list about pre gaming a novel.
  7. Open a new Microsoft Word document and start typing
    Keep typing until you hit at least 1,000 words. Repeat every day (or every writing day you can swing in a week) until you get to the end of the first draft. (1,000/day is my personal quota but again, mileage may vary.) Novel = 70-80k words, ergo, Novel = 70-80 days. Not as intimidating when you think of it that way. Also: BEAST MODE.
  8. EDIT: no longer writing a secondary character as my protag. Wrote about 10k, it wasn't working. Later, 🐊.