I got into a discussion with an aspiring writer about the difficulties of starting a novel. Many of us probably have a plethora of ideas, but don’t know where to start. I can’t tell you how many times I started with a few chapters and then stopped because I was overwhelm with the concept of writing an entire novel. It is easy to become discouraged especially if you lack the freedom of time. A writing road map can become very helpful when planning a story or even a poetry collection. Here are a few ideas that have aided my endeavors.
Ideas are constantly popping in my head, and with not enough time in the day to write a detailed description, I will jot down short notes in a notebook, text or email them to myself in case I forget in a few hours. I have pages of story concepts and words to use for poems. If I see an unusual name to use for a character, a title or a breath-taking scene, I place it on my list. The brain is a sieve when we have so much to think and worry about, so take a few seconds to notate those great ideas.
Creating a protagonist, antagonist and all the people in between is probably the most challenging. So while you are waiting in line, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or strolling the mall – pick a few unique or unusual actions and behavior from the strangers you encounter to use for your characters. Find traits that make the people you come across stand out, and use them in your story.
Bend the Themes
Select your genre. You may want to steer to what is popular at the moment or write a novel in the genre you love most. Maybe you read a romantic novel and thought it could have ended better. Create a similar story with the finale you prefer. Are you tired of all the YA dystopian trilogies? Then come up with your own Utopian concept. Take the themes at the top of the list and make them your own.
Create an Outline
Those outlines your teachers made you do before writing an essay come in very handy when plotting a novel or self-publishing a poetry collection. With a novel, it is best to map each chapter by setting, characters and a short synopsis of the contents. With a poetry collection, I pick a theme, create a list of chapters and then add the titles of the poems under each as I write them. It is much easier than searching through the thousands of poems I have written over the years.
It’s safe to say I have mastered the completion of a themed poetry book, but one day I hope to complete either a short story collection or a science fiction series. For now, I utilize the few helpful hints gathered from social media or articles I have read during my writing journey. Hopefully they can help you as you take the same path.
Written by: Donna J. Sanders
Donna is a freelance writer and blogger in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of Ataraxia, Cardboard Signs, and Devour Me.
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Categories: Writing Tips