Writing a Novel, Before Writing a Novel.

In going back over my novel in the edits, I stumbled across the many many notes and outlines I put together in order to create the novel. In essence, I wrote the novel before I wrote the novel. This post will be dedicated to, in detail, the pre-writing process.

First thing’s first, you need an idea. But you don’t just need an idea, you need an idea that you are passionate about. You can’t dedicate yourself to months or years of work on an idea that you only kind of are interested it.

Next, turn this idea into a story. Create characters, build a world, introduce a goal, and create conflict. Once you have a rough idea of this, you can figure out the general, and basic outline of the story.

In between all of this you’ll probably have little bouts of inspiration. Use these but control these. This is where a lot of authors get caught up, and ultimately give up. One morning eating breakfast you might have a spark of inspiration and come up with the perfect first line, so you take this inspiration and start writing, but that inspiration fades and you don’t totally have an idea where the story is going and you loose steam, and then you just give up. Instead of falling into this trap, only write down that first line, and stop. I do this whenever inspiration strikes, and take all of these lines and put them into a single document.

I take this document, and take my rough outline, and all of my other notes on the story (character descriptions, references, supplements, etc), and I collect them

From here, you can take all of this pre-work and create a full outline. I take the rough outline, and add to it, while adding in the lines where they would fit into the story, and I create a roughly twenty to thirty page outline of the novel in a yellow legal pad.

Oh yeah, footnote, I love legal pads, and I do almost all of the writing, or drawing, or note-taking I do (that’s not in a computer) in them.

And this is your outline. You can tweak it, add to it, and go over it until you are fully ready to sit down and write. And when you are, make yourself a pot of coffee, have a good meal, and do what you do best- Write.



One thought on “Writing a Novel, Before Writing a Novel.”

  1. I am so fascinated by the way people outline. I still struggle to do that, because of what you mention, writing the novel before the novel. If I a going to expend that energy, I might as well open a page one doc.

    I also wonder how much technology has impacted this for other writers. In depth outlining, especially by hand, when typewriters were the only option, saved a lot of time and energy, but does something like the yellow sticky or notes feature in writing programs serve that function now?


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