Tag Archives: writing novels

Starting Novels

There are lots of ways to start writing. All of them entail sitting down and putting words on a page and that includes starting novels.

Usually I am caught up in a story idea at the beginning of NaNo (National Novel Writing Month). My mind is teeming with ideas competing with each other to get out.

This November is different.

I do have a story in mind. I have ideas to go with that story. Putting the words down is hard.

For months I’ve written very little other than the posts for the website and a single piece of flash fiction. The single sentence comments on various plants barely qualify as writing. All of these are short.

Novels are much longer. I’m aiming for at least 50,000 words. But the words aren’t there.

November began. I sat down and tried to start writing. Almost 600 words in I stopped. It was wrong, wrong, wrong.

I was trying to turn a novel into a short story. I was cutting out almost all of the events planned for the novel.

One of the premises for NaNo is to keep writing no matter what. One of the other premises for me is to come out with a coherent piece of a novel.

That 600 words wasn’t much, but it was something toward my word count. I didn’t want to keep it or even continue with it as written.

I hit the Enter key several times. And pretended I was starting novels all over again.

This second start still doesn’t feel quite right. I’m having trouble with point of view, whether to write in first or third person. But the story is moving along.

The going is still slow. This novel is a new approach for me and I’m still trying to get comfortable with it. But I am making progress.

starting novels can begin with setting
What do you think and feel looking out on a pasture and woods? For many this can be frightening. For those living out in rural areas it is home. The lack of human sounds like traffic, radios, talking and more is relaxing. Natural sounds like birds, cicadas, water flowing, wind blowing can be peaceful. Whether or not such a setting is important and how important is individual. For this novel this setting and Mindy’s relationship to it is vital. What effect will a devastating flood have on her feelings?

Excerpt: Mindy’s relationship with the property is important in the novel.

Mindy stepped out onto the porch area in front of the milkroom door. Behind her was the quiet crunching as two goats finished their grain. Turning she could see the few puffy clouds now a blinding white instead of the pale pink earlier. The sun was creeping up behind the trees on the hilltop.

An autumn chill hung in the air. Mindy knew the sun would soon chase it away. A barred owl called from the hill. Who, who cooks for you? That was the way she’d heard the call described. Someday she would like to see one of the elusive birds.

Developing Plots From Stories

Developing plots from stories takes ideas and turns them into novels. When I began “Dora’s Story”, I began with the idea of following a dairy goat as she grows up. This led to a list of stages a goat goes through growing up from a breeder through her owners. I had a story idea.

developing plots from stories was complicated in Dora's Story

The idea was further developed from a list of possible owners and what they would do with this goat. I had a list of a dozen possible owners drawn from the many goat owners I’ve known or read about. But I didn’t have a plot.

My basic plot was the story of an owner losing her goat and finding her again years later. I went through my story list and selected several I could fit into the plot idea. Each owner then became a story within the main story and needed a plot.

Whenever I am developing plots from stories I go through a similar process. Some of my books are straightforward. For these the story becomes a bullet point list of plot points which become the novel.

Developing the plots from stories takes another twist for a novel like “Capri Capers” formatted like a movie serial. Each chapter needed a cliff hanging ending. The basic story was for Harriet to gain her dreams of property and goats then fall in love with Arthur.

developing plots from stories can take time coordination

Two sets of villains enter the story. Leroy Rogue is a dastardly villain and pulls suitably evil schemes. Dan Janus is only trying to marry money and pulls off little stunts through his two helpers.

Again I did a list of bullet points, one for each happening. This let me set up the cliff hangers. The original draft actually followed the old movie serial format where each chapter replayed the cliff hanger inserting how it was avoided. The final draft edited out the replays.

Every writer must find the way of developing plots from stories that works for them. I’ve met writers who use extensive outlines. Others create the character and story in their heads, sit down and write whatever comes to mind. I prefer using bullet point lists and time lines.