You want to write a novel, but you don’t know how to start. You have all these ideas milling around in your head, but you can’t seem to organize them. What do you do? Write them down. Get a journal and write it in there, or create an electronic file in your word processing program and write it in there.
What do you do once you get your ideas written down and organized? This is where I say, it all depends on how you as an individual go about it? Everyone is different and will do what is comfortable for them. But what if you don’t know how you work? You are going to have to try different things and discover what way you like best.
Here’s what I do. When I finished my first novel, I immediately wanted to write the second one. I had an idea of what I wanted the second book to be about but most of it was bunched in my head in pieces. I knew what I wanted the story to consist of but I didn’t know what I needed to do to connect those ideas. I started out by putting together a three ring binder with sections. These sections are as follows: characters, realms, settings, photos, names for characters, questions, story, style sheet, and fantasy characters.
I went through each section of my binder and added my notes in each section. Once the information was separate this way, my mind was free to meditate on each. The one section I started with was questions. I looked at those and sought to answer them. No, the answers didn’t come right away. I brainstormed the answers and some questions I had to really think about. This is where my walks came in handy. During that time my brain was free to think. Much of what I came up with and worked for my story came from that thinking time during my walks.
Example: below is a question I needed an answer to for my up and coming novel The Cross’s Key. I wanted seven realms in my novel hence the double question below…..
What will these realms be and how will I connect them to the story?
The answer to the above questions did not come right away. It took a while. That’s ok. Don’t rush your story. Take your time. But…..write down your ideas.
As a kid people always told me how quiet I was (I still am). It surprised me (and still does) that some have a problem with that. The truth is, being quiet is part of my personality. If there is something to say, I’ll say it. I’m not the only quiet human. There are others. But there are times when I’m not. I like to be goofy and joke around, just not all the time.
What I’ve noticed though, after my dad pointed this out, when I am quiet, I am observing other people. How they talk, their mannerisms, their physical attributes, their speech patterns, everything; I take in everything. Here again, that’s how I have always been. Does this mean I observe everything around me? No. LOL. My husband is good at that. We compliment each other in that way.
If you are creating characters, be mindful of them (their mannerisms, physical attributes, language, etc.). Observe other people and write down what you observe in a character journal so you can use that information later when creating a scene/chapter in your story/novel. Or if you’re in the process of creating a character, those observations can come in handy.
When you’re writing, whether it’s a short story, a novel, or a poem, do you pay attention to what is going on around you when you aren’t writing? Sometimes I’ll write down what I hear/see in my journal for later use and sometimes I don’t. Most times I remember. I know what you must be thinking. “How can you remember all that?” Well, I don’t. It isn’t until I’m writing a scene, and what I’m writing triggers a memory of something I saw or heard, then if it fits the scene, I use it. But, most often it’s only snippets of a conversation or something I saw that I end up using. Journals are a wonderful thing though and can contain a treasure trove of useful info. Take what you can from real life and mold it like clay.
The pictures below of are my journal for my novel The Triunix of Time. As you can see from the warn tabs and such, it’s been used quite a bit.
When I was in the U.S. Navy Reserves back in 2005, I did my annual training on the USS Bohomme Richard LHD 6. At that time smart phones weren’t really a thing yet. A lot of my friends including myself had the flip phone and there was no camera on it. So, when I went on this AT, the ship sailed from San Diego, CA to Seattle WA. Since I didn’t have a camera on my cell phone, I had to take with me a couple of disposable cameras. Well, I really wish I had taken more of those cameras because I ended up running out of film. Here I was sitting on a park bench looking out over the bay in Seattle watching cruise ships and viewing the vast and majestic Mt. Rainier feeling the light breeze and enjoying a rare blue sky and sunshiny day, and I had no camera to capture it all. What did I do? I took my journal out and painted my own picture of it with words.
Think outside the box here. Do this your way. Free write this description and get down any and all words you can that describes everything you see and go back later and cut and change what you don’t want. On the other hand, you can slow down, breathe, enjoy the fresh salty air floating up off the water being carried by the breeze. Close your eyes, listen to the sounds, smell the scents and then take out your journal and pen/pencil and ‘paint’ your picture(s). You will be surprised at what your brain comes up with. These two methods are what works for me, but I much prefer the latter.
Keep this and all writings you have because they can be used later in a short story or a novel or two. Doing this also allows you to see how you’ve grown in your writing as time goes by. I recently went back to one of my journals in which I ‘took a picture with words’ and reread it. It was from a vacation I took with my husband and kids in 1997. As I was reading it my mind began making some mental changes to what I wrote that would make it better. My thought here? OMG I can use this in my next book. Oh the discovery of it all. Writing is truly fun.