Are you ready to write a new book? What are some of the things you could do before you begin?
-Think about the characters. Some writers interview their characters, and some fill out a questionnaire that reveals everything from the protagonist’s favorite color to whether or not she likes Starbuck’s coffee.
-Name the characters. Now that you have an idea who the characters are, or you’re starting to get to know them, give them names.
-Perfect the main characters’ GMCs (goals, motivations, conflicts). You don’t necessarily have to write these out, especially if you’re a pantser (fly the seat of your pants), but you need to know what the characters are chasing, why, and what’s holding them back. This should be done from an internal (emotional) and external (physical) perspective.
-Come up with a plot outline. This can be done in your head or written out. It can be detailed or vague, but you should have some sort of idea how the story will start and where it will end.
-Develop character arcs. How will your characters grow? What will their journey look like? What will be their lowest low, their black moment? And how will that affect them?
-Feel out your POV (point of view) characters’ voices. This can be done as you write, which may lead to revisions later as you discover that Jane isn’t such a prissy woman after all. She’s more of a hard-ass biker chick. Now, her voice needs to match her personality. Or you can write out backstory scenes that will NEVER SHOW UP IN THE NOVEL. These scenes are written as if the backstory were happening now or just happened. You can live through the character and really feel what she went through in her past and how that changed or formed who she is today.
-Think about setting. Do you need to research the city or area where the story takes place? What do people wear in that neck of the woods? How do they speak? Is there a Starbucks on every corner? What kinds of jobs are available? Are there a lot of industry or retail opportunities? What about pollution? What’s the weather like? What kinds of trees would you find in the region?
-Research. Do you know everything you need to know before you’ll feel comfortable writing about the subject? Do you need to learn how investigators handle a crime scene? Do you know anything about the 1500s? If your hero is a mechanic, you might want to learn about some of the tools he uses and jobs he does. If your heroine is allergic to shrimp, do you know what will happen if she eats one? What kind of gun would a villain use in a western story?
These are only suggestions about things you can do before you start a story. Nothing is written in stone. You can change any of it as you write the novel, but it helps to know something about the story and its characters so you’ll have a rough idea of where the story will end.
What kinds of things do you do before you begin writing a new story?
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