I am looking for some inspiration on where to start writing a novel. I have a general idea for a plot and characters, but I don't feel it's enough for sitting down and starting to write. It needs a lot of development. And I am not sure how to approach it.

Obviously not all writers start in the same place or prepare in the same way. I would like to know how different people approach that.

Do you know of writers who wrote or talked about this process? Maybe there's a book with interviews of writers about their creative process, that will cover that too? Or maybe some of you will be interested in sharing their own experience?

8 Answers 8


I think I've written this before (or upvoted someone who has written it), but so what:

  1. You need a basic idea. Oh, you have one, good.
  2. You need a main conflict. Otherwise you do not have a story. That means your hero wants something and someone is putting obstacles in his way. Like Remeo wants Juliet, but their families are against their relationship. Hero wants peace, but villain wants to conquer the world.
  3. You need more conflicts. Smaller ones along the way. Inner conflicts of the characters. Leaves conflict with the tree and water conflicts the river. Conflicts everywhere.
  4. Characters. Characters drive the story (well, normally). Write down the biography of your characters. How do they look, when left they school, how many children, inabilities, do they smoke, torture puppies, eat children, hate women, were violated by their daddy, whatever. Ask your characters questions to get to know them. "Would you drive 100mph in a city if you knew you weren't caught?" "Would you play football naked in a sold out stadium?" Stuff like that.

If you have your basic idea and the main conflict, start to develop your characters. When you know who will drive the story, you get more ideas for the other conflicts.


For book resources, there are many out there. Here's a small sampling:

There are a couple of questions on this site that may help:

  • This question has a larger list of book resources, although not all will directly apply to your question
  • This question covers resources for character development in particular

There are some good answers here.

I'm finding the Snowflake method useful as well.


Looking back at my own writing, my recommendation is:

You'll have to find out yourself.

There are two main directions writing can take, often called "outline" and "no outline". The no outline approach means that you sit down with the seed of an idea (a scene, a character, a first sentence) and just start writing, letting yourself be surprised by where the story takes you. The outline approach means that you develop every important aspect of your story (characters, beginning, end, conflict, antagonist, etc.) and then "flesh out" this skeleton. There are many different methods for the outline and the no outline approach, giving you a wide variety of approaches you can take. You will not know which one is right for you without experimenting.

Which is why, if this is your first story or novel, you should just start in whatever way feels right to you and see what obstacles you encounter.

Of course you can chose any one approach that a random anonymous person recommends on the internet, but chances are that this is the wrong approach for you. It is much more likely that doing what feels right for you at the moment will be a good basis to find your own method.

When you write with no outline but find that the final first draft is inconsistent or that you want to constantly rewrite what you already wrote to adapt it to new ideas you have later, you might try outline first with your next novel. Or if you find that creating an outline stifles your imagination and takes the fun out of writing, abandon the outline and write without one. In any case you will have learned something about yourself, because that is what learning to write is about: it is not learning a given method and adapting it mindlessly, but finding out what kind of writer you are. And the best way to find this out, in writing as in any other art (think of art school students trying different painting styles), is to experiment and allow yourself to fail. Your first novel should not be the only book you ever want to write, but the first of many attempts at creating better and better novels.


To develop story for any novel, first you need to have a start and an end points. Now the whole story and the characters in it will be moving according to this final goal point. You can add as many characters as you want but one condition they need to support your story and shouldn’t go beyond your perception of the story because this will confuse the readers. One more important point about readers is don’t write story in readers view. Some may like the story and some may think its useless. Pour your heart where you need some sympathy on the characters. Make readers involve and feel the story;It all depends on how well you can tell a story. Before writing practice story telling. Cook stories and tell them to your buddies, colleagues, family members (I'm suggesting you to cook stories for your hobby not encouraging lies. :-) ) this story telling will expand your imagination power. Hope I my suggestion would help you in your story writing.


What I do is usually just sit down and write without thinking, then edit it later. I have a basic idea of a story, but it usually just happens as I go along.


Everyone has their own method. No method is any better or worse than another. Some find it helps to create a plot outline. Others prefer to create characters and let them do whatever they want.

Some writers collect snippets on napkins and business cards and notes for years and piece them together into a coherent story.

A novel takes a long time. Breaking it into chunks is sometimes better. Outlining the plot also helps you avoid wasting time writing parts that will be thrown out later.

I spent two years writing a book with a heavily outlined plot. The book was eventually trashed.

It is important to write that first novel. Don't worry about how bad it might be. Most people have to get that 'bad' book out of their system before they can really get to the real goods.


Nothing can prepare you to write. It is a freefall. Allow yourself ONLY ONE outline, then start. Or just start.

Consider this question as you start:

"What does my protagonist want?"

In the monomyth, the hero is called. The only reason this is relevant/interesting is because the hero wants to answer.

The protagonist's desire, at every point in the story, is like a compass pointing north (or more accurately, to the climax). You have to figure out all the rest through toil. Watch in terror as your protagonist's desire knocks down all your splendid prior plans for the story. Follow their desire and rebuild.

If you are really stuck, ask one more question:

"How is my protagonist's desire being DENIED right now?"

If the desire isn't being denied the story is effectively over (up to you to decide if that has happened as the right time or not). If the character isn't doing something to get around the denying obstacle, the story has almost certainly stalled.

Of course there is more to writing, but the first step is finishing a draft. If your story's heart is beating (protagonist is chasing a desire against resistance), you'll complete something you can show for feedback.

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