Date Of Birth – beginning a new novel

baby

When I first begin a new novel, I don’t believe in word count goals, or daily schedules, or progress reports or “being productive” or any of that other hullabaloo. All of that comes later, but at the beginning? No way.

And I have a very deliberate reason.

I want to let the book form itself. Grow, evolve, figure itself out… without me getting in the way. What is its essence? What does it stand for? Where does it want to go? What is my subconscious roaring to say?

A mother doesn’t instantly rush her newborn off to school the second it’s born, fresh drips of placenta trailing behind it. (Great visual, eh? Can’t you just hear the splat splat splat right now?)

I haven’t started something new quite yet, but I got to thinking about what will come after this current project, once it’s done.

The beginning of a novel is a magical, precious time. I don’t push it. I don’t shepherd it along with a pokey stick, like you sometimes have to do with a more mature story. This is when the book gets to play. When my mind is at its most fertile. When ideas can rear up out of the foam, unencumbered by what must come next or what came before.  This is when seeds are sprouting that I didn’t even know were in the dirt. But the book knew.

So I let it form itself. This is not the time to rush.

Because they grow up so fast, don’t they?

chick

Tell me, how do you begin a new project? Do you plow ahead or let it build?

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10 thoughts on “Date Of Birth – beginning a new novel

  1. Great post, and it made me smile. – I’ve yet to find the right start of a novel, and I think that’s because there it isn’t quite as well-defined as the ‘and they all lived happily ever after.’ – The best I think any of us can hope to do is pick up the thread at a place that feels organic and, if the story doesn’t flow as we expected, we can set about looking elsewhere for it.

    I think this is the first blog post I’ve read of yours, and I’ll be sure to read more. 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading! Probably best not to overthink the beginning until more of the story is under way. The right opening can be so hard to nail. I’ve had to change my openers on both of my novels. If I worried about the right beginning when I first started, I’d never get anywhere!

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  2. I agree. In my first novel, I struggled for a good part of a year trying to form in my mind what the real story was. I slogged my way through. It helps, I think, to write notes on story arcs, themes, character sketches, if nothing else than to jog your creativity. I found that once I had gotten past a certain point, my “vision” of the future scenes became clearer and I made better progress. As I neared the end, I knew the ending and could plough solidly through until the end.

    Often, as I wrote, I would have good vision on the next five or scenes I was working on. Often, I relied a lot on my subconscious to do the heavy lifting. As I would move through the novel and complete writing scenes, my vision of the next batch of scenes would come into focus.

    You are right, though. It is a magical process.

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    • Thanks so much for this in-depth note, I always love hearing about other people’s processes. 🙂 You sound pretty similar to me – I let my subconscious take me where it wants to go as well, and I do a lot of note-taking and idea sketches.

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  3. This feels very much in line with the Stephen King idea of stories finding us, not the other way around. I’m yet to even attempt a novel but the time is coming…will let you know how it goes, but I suspect my process will be similar to yours. I’m not a rules and regs kind of a guy 🙂

    Oh, and it is indeed a great visual!

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