There are new opportunities for writers in fiction, so over the next few weeks we’ll discuss ways in which you can get started writing your novel, without trauma.
Buy a couple of stacks of index cards
If you say to yourself with grim determination: “Now I’m going to plot my novel”, chances are that you’ll block. You may be one of those rare writers to whom a plot is reveal in its entirety. More likely, you’ll have vague ideas, or just an idea for a character or a situation.
Do yourself a favor a buy a couple of stacks of index cards.
Yes, they’re very low-tech, but that’s the point. You don’t need anything other than a card to capture your ideas.
Each evening, or every couple of days, you can jot the information on your cards into Scrivener, my favorite writing tool for long projects, or into a word processor document.
There’s just one rule, and it’s this: one thought, one card.
Some cards may just contain a few words. Others may contain complete sentences — an idea for your plot, or your character. An occasional card may contain more: perhaps you’ve read a news story, and think that you could use a similar situation in your novel.
Index cards are perfect tools because you can carry them anywhere, and they’re stress-free. They take the pressure off you, because all you need to do is keep filling up cards.
I’ve got blank index cards clipped together with a bulldog clip, in every room in the house. There’s a stack in my car, in my purse, and a stack of 3×5 cards near the front door, ready to stash in my pocket when Honey (my Jack Russell terrier) and I go for walks.
You needn’t feel under any pressure to begin your novel too soon. Carry around your cards for a couple of weeks, at least. The more cards you have the better. You’ll find that when you transcribe your cards into Scrivener, or whatever else you’re using, you’ll get more ideas and impressions.
Please don’t worry if your cards don’t “make sense”. They’re not supposed to make sense while you’re in the process of collecting them. Eventually, a plot will develop from your cards — not a complete plot, but a sense of who your villain is (human, nature, alien) and why he means trouble for your hero (male or female), your setting, and a few scenes, both major scenes and minor ones.
If your cards spark your imagination sufficiently, you may find that an entire scene springs to life in your mind. It’s like watching a movie. Write the scene, complete with dialogue, if you wish. However, don’t feel under any obligation to use the scene in your novel.
At this stage, you’re just in collection mode.
Your aim is to have a lot to write about: too much, in fact. This is another way of eliminating one of the major stresses of the “dreaded middle” of your novel. Many writers start writing too soon, and then around about page 30 or page 100, they hit the wall.
Their initial inspiration has dissipated, and they have no idea what comes next. They create characters and kill characters, but their novel becomes a meandering mess.
If you keep collecting, you may even find that not only do you have sufficient material for one novel, you’ve got sufficient for two or three. This is a wonderful situation.
OK — go buy some index cards. Happy collecting. 🙂
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These days it’s crazy to spend years writing a book, without having any idea as to whether or not you can make money from it. If you want to write, you can – you have a global market, which is hungry for information and entertainment. And YOU can provide it… even if you’re a brand new author.
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I want to show you how you can do the same, if you wish. Your dreams of writing a book can be the spark which changes your life.
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