Writing Novels #1: Starting a Novel

5K 141 24

Writing Novels #1: Starting a Novel

You have a spectacular idea.

An action sequence has formed in your head, or perhaps a couple's first kiss. The make-up after a fight. The reunion between separated people. The crowning of the heroic prince.

These are all little ideas that start forming in a person's head, ideas for the middle of the novel, or maybe  the ending.

You sit down with a laptop or a pen and paper, and force the ideas to come. Unless, of course, you have a spectacular vision for the beginning, but let's face it; that usually doesn't happen. Beginnings are important - they are the very first thing your readers will see, and it will make their first impression either good, bad, or 'meh.' 

What many writers do is start off in the middle, and come back to the beginning later. This can work, don't get me wrong. Many great writers have succeeded with this, but as for my writing style? I have a hard time going out of order. I need a beginning before I can write the climax, because usually the character has gone through some growth and change since the beginning of the book by the tension point. I enjoy writing in order, so that I can grow with my character as the book goes on.

So what do you do?

This first paragraph could change how your readers are drawn to the book.

Well, let me start off with what not to do.

~~Alarm clock
           
- This idea has been much overused. Not only that, but it's slightly annoying. I wake up to my alarm every day and despise it, so who wants to start off a book with the very thing I despise? Not a great idea to draw readers in.

~~ "Hi, I'm Sue, I'm 5'6" with blond hair and blue eyes. Etc."
            - Can I be honest? This opening is very unprofessional. The only place I've seen a published opening remotely close to this is in children's books. Now, unless you're writing a book for children (which I have yet to see on Wattpad) don't use this. I could go on and on about reasons not to, but I'll just let you know that it's unprofessional, overused, and boring. Quite boring.

~~ Paragraphs upon paragraphs of backstory.
            - Who wants to click on a project on Wattpad and open it to find two+ pages of gigantic paragraphs ONLY describing the character's life before the story? Or the history of the world in a fantasy book? Let me tell you, I get enough history lessons in school, and I hate it. Spare me the nuisance of having to read on and on about your world or character without any break for dialogue, description, characterization, or plot.
             Backstory is meant to be naturally slipped into the story sporadically to briefly give your readers a little history. It's okay later on to space out the history of your world if it's absolutely vital, but otherwise? We don't need to know everything, and definitely not right away.
            -Also, we don't know your character yet because you haven't given us a chance to meet/know them, so we aren't going to care very much, to be honest. We aren't going to want to read paragraphs about how your character was abused, and had her heart broken, orphaned, abandoned, etc. If you're only trying to get us to feel sympathy for the character, don't do it this way. Let us get to know the character first, see what she's like, and then we'll start wondering what made her this way and that's when you can slip in a little backstory.

~~The weather.
           -Okay, there's nothing technically wrong with this. Only that it's been overused and I see it way too often. You can do it, if you must, but remember what I said back when I was talking about the five senses. Have it affect the character. Why on earth would we need to know it was a clear, sunny day if it's not important to your story? Honesty, I think that in modern writing it's not great to start off your story with details that are drastically unneeded. It can give the reader the impression that your story will be filled with useless information and unwanted description. SO, if you started with the weather, tell us why it's important.

Jessie's Tips for Better WritingRead this story for FREE!