Writing: Getting started 101


One of the most common stages where a person will quit on their novel or writing idea is at the beginning. The very idea of forming all of these ideas into coherent text can be nothing short of daunting, which can leave some people paralysed before they even make it to the keyboard (or pen).

For others, when it comes time to write, they suddenly find they’re second guessing themselves. They’re plagued with: “Why did I even think this was a good idea after all?” “I can’t write well enough to do this idea justice!”

In her book, Novel Shortcuts, Laura Whitcomb address three essential criteria in getting your novel started.

They are:

  1. Clarifying the Premise.

“The premise is a statement that briefly describes your story. It covers the main issue, the problem that arcs across the entire novel,” states Laura. “When you have a strong premise in place, the throughline of your novel will help guide you. The premise should be short and catchy.”

  1. Who is your man character?

“Focusing on a central character strengthens the narrative. You don’t need to make that character a first-person narrator or follow her around in limited third-person. You can tell the story with an omniscient voice if you want to. But knowing whom the story is really about will help you focus the book,” states Laura. “When you know whose story you are telling, when you picture her as the star of the book, you’ll be able to see her more clearly and accurately.”

  1. Your setting.

While your story may have many different settings, Laura advises that you only have one main or central setting. “The setting is like a supporting character. It has dreams and flaws and gifts, just like your hero and your villain. …As with your central character, when you know your story’s setting, when you picture the details and quality of light, when you can smell it and walk it, measuring the length of the place with your strides, when you hear its bird cries or siren calls, you’ll be able to more easily write your characters’ reactions to that environment.”

“You don’t decide to write a certain story so much as you are called to write it,” states Laura. “Your story haunts you until you have no other choice. It courts you. It dazzles you. You conjured this idea from your soul. It’s all about wonder.” So having clearly in mind these three essential points will help you on your way to writing your manuscript or piece.

Happy Writing!



Question for the readers: What do you find is the hardest obstacle to overcome in making that start on a fresh manuscript/writing idea?


Source: Novel Shortcuts: Ten techniques that ensure a great first draft by Laura Whitcomb


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