I would like to undertake a project and write a novel, but I'm not sure how should I start. I have the idea, I just don't know the best way to write it down.

Should I just open "Word" and write what's on my mind, or should I do some research first? Does research need to be made even if I write about wordily daily life topics?

I saw some help books that claim to help me undertake this task "in 10 easy steps" or so, but I have never tried those. I'm not sure if they really can help me out or even if there's an easy way to take the first steps.

Finally, I would like to understand what should I be aware in my work to understand if it would be classified or not as fan fiction?

  • 1
    Welcome to Writers! This question is difficult to answer because it's quite broad. Are you mostly concerned with how to get started writing? the self-help books? or how to differentiate your writing from fan fiction? All of these could be separate questions. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Aug 31 '13 at 0:40
  • I'm just asking how to get started writing, those other two points; are examples of what I mean, to centralise what people could respond to, they aren't really separate questions more like guide-proposals? I do agree it is poorly worded. – Just-doing-some-english Sep 1 '13 at 13:37
  • Would you consider editing your question to make these things more clear? – Goodbye Stack Exchange Sep 1 '13 at 14:17

I write mixing snooker and role-playing games. It works really well for me, and maybe it can work for you too.

At first I conceive the world in which the plot will take place. I don't care about the characters, just the background and what is happening independent of the plot. Let's say I'm writing Little Red Hood tale.

In some small town near a small forest a wolf appears, after being driven away from his original home by a huntsman for killing some sheep. In the neighborhood, there aren't many animals since the local lord has gone away to fight a war and all the peasants start to hunt in the private woods, killing all the big animals. The wold was growing hunger.

Now I need to work the plot. The only thing you know before start to play a snooker game is that it starts with all the balls aligned in a certain way, and that it will end after all your balls are in the bags.

  1. Start: Little Red Hood will take a trip to deliver some food to her grandmother.
  2. End: The wolf will be killed and Little Red Hood will be saved.

Now I need to choose my balls. The balls are important events that I think are relevant, interesting or crucial.

  1. Little Red Hood will meet the wolf in the woods.
  2. The wolf will kill her grandmother.
  3. The huntsman will show up to help with the wolf.

The snooker game is set and I'll rub chalk on my pool cue to start playing. Rubbing chalk is to details the characters and the locations (and anything else) I already know, and it's vital to have a starting point.

Scrievener is great for this, since it will allow you to create sheets in the same workspace and makes the job easier.

Now it's time to play and to bag my balls. To bag my balls, I'll start to write the chapters that will take Little Red Hood from home to the encounter with the wolf, then the chapters that will take wolf from the encounters to killing the grandmother and so on. It's all a matter of linking the dots.

Please notice that this technique is highly fluid and mutable and you won't have full control of the story since the characters may take actions that you weren't expecting. I know you decide what the characters do, but in this kind of writing your imagination will be like a river, adapting to what is happening, not following a pre-designed pipe.

That means you may find yourself in strange situations some times, what will mean that you may have to spend a few days working out how the characters will be able to bag the ball. It's normal and, I must say, interesting.

Probably, a lot of people here will say it isn't a good way to write. I don't share the same opinion because I understand that writing is a very personal thing. You need to know the basics and the techniques but the execution will be yours and yours alone.

Some people work with a very well structured plot, some like freedom.

Of course, structure is everything. This "snooker/dot linking" method also deals with a lot of structure, it just don't make structure extremely rigid.

  • Thanks, I like the analogy and yes that's what I've been trying to do so it's nice to know i'm on the right track :) the way you explain it though makes it a lot clearer – Just-doing-some-english Sep 1 '13 at 13:39

You can first write all the points that come to your mind related to the topic and then you can refer to self help books to add more information. Alternatively, you can also do research.

Finally, when you have collected sufficient information about the topic then you can arrange it in an order to make the novel worth for reading.


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