Growing a Novel

Since I’m done growing a baby, I thought I’d move on to growing a novel, cultivated specifically for the little munchkin. (Who knows, maybe it will fund his college? Pipe dream?) I also thought it might be neat if I shared the process in my blog. That way, if I actually produce a novel, I (and others) can go back later to review and hone the process.

I should mention, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo which I had to skip out on because of said munchkin, this is also an experiment in how quickly I can bust out a novel. Because of that, I’ve decided to set my novel in the present, on planet earth, in this dimension. In other words, it’s not going to be scifi.

The Process Begins

There’s no right way to start a novel, so here’s what I did. I took out a blank sheet of paper, turned it on the horizontal and drew a line. Next, I placed vertical hash marks at three even intervals along the line to divide it into four equal segments. The beginning and ending of the line represent the beginning and ending of my novel. The hash marks represent crisis/turning points. The horizontal line represents the timespan, which in my case is seven days.

With my rudimentary drawing complete, I wrote a sentence describing each crisis/turning point, and then began penciling in high level plot details leading up to each. When my ideas became too big to fit on one sheet of paper, I pulled out an empty notebook.

Since my story takes place within the span of seven days, I wrote each day at the top of a blank page (“Sunday”, “Monday”, “Tuesday”, et cetera). Now I had seven beat sheets on which to begin organizing my plot elements. Not surprisingly, I started out strong and fizzled out quickly. Why? My story idea didn’t include enough conflict and I had no idea who my characters were or where they lived. Time to shift gears again.

More later.