Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fiction Writing: Begin at the Beginning

So you want to write a novel? Okay. Let's begin.

When it comes to fiction writing, the beginning can be anywhere really. It can be the first sentence, the last chapter, a fight scene in the middle, or a random piece of dialogue to be said by a character whose name you haven't even decided on yet. There are no rules on how to start writing a story. Well, I mean, people make "rules" all the time for themselves, but it's nothing enforced upon the whole of the writer population. That would be silly.

A lot of people start to write because they are seized by an idea -whether for a plot, a setting, a person, or a just a genre in general. It's different for everyone. Usually when I get inspired to write something new it's because a character walks into my head and then makes themselves comfortable. Typically my story goes from there as I weave their world and put them into a series of situations. In my latest endeavour though (the one I will be working on during Nanowrimo) the setting came first. That's never happened to me before so it was exciting to explore. The characters didn't come until I had fleshed out the workings of the world and even then my main character only came out of the woodwork a month or so ago. Keep in mind, I've had all this in my head for almost a year now.

Once you're overtaken with an idea, it's a good idea to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start brainstorming. Things you want to address pretty immediately are characters, setting, and story line. These are the backbone of your novel and should be given a lot of attention. Coming up with a rough outline of what you want to write can be helpful in this beginning stage, but it depends really. Sometimes when I write I don't have an outline at all and I just let the story go as it wants. Other times I meticulously plan out all the major events and jot down all the minor in between stuff with notes on how the characters should be feeling along with potential dialogue. Do whatever feels right.

When it actually comes time to sit down and start letting the words pour out of you, though, you want to make sure you're prepared. You should research your setting thoroughly and have a good handle on who your characters are and how they act. You will also need to decide on are a point of view to write from.

Points of View
  • First Person: Writing as the main character of the story -"I, me, mine, my." Some people find this difficult but personally it's my favourite POV to use. It's a great way to really get into your main character's head and experience the story through them.
  • Second Person: This POV is weird and not very popular mostly because it's kind of awkward to write and read. It uses "you" and "your" as if the narrator is saying that the story is happening to you as the reader. "You look into the cave to find it dark, but you go in anyways. Your heart is beating loudly in your chest."
  • Third Person Limited: Written as an outsider looking in, allowing the reader to only know what's going on inside the head of one character. Harry Potter is written in third person limited.
  • Third Person Omniscient: Also written as an outsider looking in, but allowing the reader to get into the heads of multiple characters.
Piece of advice: try to make sure you choose the right POV from the beginning. Deciding you want to change it and then going back and editing everything you've written is such a pain in the ass.

Coming up next in my fiction writing post series: Talking to the Voices in Your Head (Character Development)

Manda Rave

Some Stuff to Look at in the Meantime:

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