The 5 Best Ways to Start Your Novel

So you want to start your novel? Follow these essential tips to make it happen!

photo via Unsplash

** Note: This post was updated on June 11, 2015.

So you're ready to start your novel? Congratulations! When it comes to writing, there are a few strategies you can implement to kickstart your novel-writing, and get those words on the paper. But first? Let's get acquainted.

If you don't know, I'm Jenny Bravo. My book, These Are the Moments, released this year, and I chronicled my journey on this blog. Does this make me an expert novelist? Heck no. But I've learned a great deal, and I'm happy to share what I know.

So, what's your story? How will you share it with the world?

Allow me to help...

BE AN OBSERVER.

Have you ever people-watched? Overheard a conversation? Of course you have. Being a witness to the life around you is key to excelling as a novelist. If you want to create characters that feel real, to write believable dialogue, and establish interesting plot lines, you need to sit back and observe.

A few questions to get you started:

  1. How do the people around you greet one another? What words do they choose?
  2. What are people wearing? What strikes you as interesting or different?
  3. What do your surroundings look like? What colors, patterns, and landscape do you notice?

QUESTION EVERYTHING.

Every book has themes that center around conflict. For my book, I focused on the question, do people ever change?  When you find an important question that you want to answer, and find the characters that are crucial to answering them, you're on your way to author status.

How do you find the right questions to ask? You question everything. Why do we wake up and go to work every day? Why do people get married and have children? Why do you like eating pizza? Sooner or later, you'll find the perfect question to answer.

DON'T CENSOR YOURSELF.

Now that you've starting writing down your ideas, don't judge your writing too early. Once you've read how to write a first draft, it's important to remember this: write more, edit less. First drafts are meant to be messy and illegible, especially if you write your novel on paper.

For homework: Try to do a word sprint. Set a timer for yourself and see how many words you can write in that amount of time. Remember: you can't delete.

WRITE FIRST. OUTLINE LATER.

Disclaimer: this bullet does not necessarily apply to everyone. While some people operate well by outlining before they begin writing, others thrive on the unknown. If you give your writing the power to surprise you, it could drastically improve your story. 

Helpful hint: If you find yourself getting stuck with writing, try making an inspiration board or creating a novel soundtrack.

JUST DO IT.

You have ideas. You have grand plans. But when it comes to picking up the pen and making the words happen, you freeze. You doubt yourself and you trust that sinking feeling that's telling you that you can't, but guess what? That feeling is wrong. 

All you need to do is starting writing. Anything and everything.

Need some inspiration? Check out Ten Things I Learned from Finishing a Novel.

Discussion Time: Are you ready to start your novel? What are your biggest fears/concerns?