A while ago I read James N Frey’s book, ‘How to Write a Damn Good Novel,’ which I highly recommend to anyone serious about writing. He clearly explains how to develop your story from scratch, and starts off with developing characters.
Personally my stories evolve from a random idea, usually conceived as I drive to work or am stuck in traffic. I mull over the concept for a few weeks, waiting for it will take form, and at this stage characters start to show themselves. Sometimes it doesn’t work that easily and I need to prod the idea along, so I start writing it out.
First, I write out the story idea in a sentence or two, along with any general character information that’s come to me, if any.
Next, I determine the core conflict. In my current novel, the MC is at odds with the pack leader, and this dictates a lot of the decisions she makes, not to mention the trouble she gets herself into.
Then, I work on a basic premise for the story, which expands on what happens to the character as a result of the core conflict. This could be a simple sentence, such as in my novel = independence leads to problems.
At the end of the novel, the core conflict should be resolved, and the premise proved. Another reason to set up the premise is that when I start fleshing out my scenes, if a scene does not prove the premise, it’s not needed. This is sometimes hard to do, as I may have too many scenes I try to squeeze in, but more on that in another blog.
So at this stage, I start fleshing out my characters, establishing inner conflicts and premises for each of them, but I’ll go into more details on this next Monday.
How do you kick-start your novel idea?James N Frey, How to Write a Damn Good Novel.