Thinking about writing a novel, but are wondering how to begin? The following tips will help:
1. Get your main character or characters in BIG trouble. For example, a potential divorce means trouble for one of those characters, but it shouldn't be the only problem. Other problems, such as the main character's attitudes and other shortcomings, should prevent that character from getting what he or she wants.
2. Try to determine the outcome before writing your novel. In other words, will your character have solved his or her problems or not?
3. In your novel's first chapter, present the thing that will really upset your character's way of living. So far, he's gotten what he wants and continues to live his life without a care. Everything is going smoothly. But without warning, something happens that will change that character's life forever and he must do something about it NOW before things get any worse. All of the chapters after the first will be devoted to your character's attempts to solve the problem.
4. After writing your first chapter, make a scratch outline, or quick list of events that are to follow. For example, the character returns home, only to find that his home has been broken into and ransacked. What does he do now? Does he succeed or not? What's the next obstacle that will frustrate his efforts to solve the problem?
5. As you write, keep thinking about your character's mental and physical obstacles. How do they hinder your character's efforts to get what he wants, and what does he do to overcome them?
6. Try to resist the urge to edit as you continue writing, especially as you write the first chapter. Doing so will slow you down and prevent you from continuing. Just keep writing!
Dorothy Zjawin is the author of a number of Instructor articles that inspired her published book, Teaching Ideas for the Come-Alive Classroom (Parker/Prentice-Hall). For more ideas, visit her website at http://www.profitable-pen.com She includes tips for writing a novel that are based on her own experiences.