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How to write a novel | Planning


Before you start writing a novel, you need to plan a little. Who will be your narrator? It can be anyone. The narrator can be omnipotent, all knowing and even know what your characters are thinking. You have to be careful with your narrator, a neutral narrator who describes what is happening is one option. Your narrator could be a ghost, a neighbour, a pirate who says, ‘Ar’ a lot… Your narrator can be anyone. I thought about this when I was planning a story and considered having the narrator as a neighbour of the protagonist who observes him. It would be different…

I become inspired by all kinds of things. I have written a novel about a guy who goes on an adventure and sails to the Mediterranean. I wrote about someone who inherited a large stately home that was falling apart too. I like the idea of my protagonist travelling like a gypsy, from place to place. I considered a guy on a road trip and then I looked at this photograph and thought that maybe a canal boat trip. It would be unusual, but I wouldn’t be able to make the narrator a neighbour! I would need a name for my protagonist, should I give him a family or make him a lonely traveller? Should I give him a history? How did he come to start his journey? I don’t want to write a mystery, they are too common. Maybe a novel or novella about a guy who overcomes a problem? I did once write about a soldier and his battle with post traumatic stress disorder. My protagonist needs a motive, a reason to go on this journey. What could that be? He could be running away from something or searching for something?

Life is often a game of chance and our future depends on a chance meeting or a chance event. I need to think how luck and fortune has affected my protagonist and brought him to this crossroads in his life. Do I need an antagonist for him to battle against or would be inner demons be enough of an antagonist? The good guy struggling with the inner demons inside of him? That could work. What could those inner demons be? They could be loneliness, he could feel guilty about some past event. He could be hiding a secret past; the past determines who we are. It could be a good idea to write a few notes about his past and the problems he has had.

What of his future? Do we want him to struggle with his inner demons and overcome his problems. Is his idea of travelling a good one or is he just running away from his problems?  We have to ask a lot about him, before we even get into other characters that he might meet along the way. We also have to get to know him before we can imagine how he might cope with events that happen along the way.

I have a story forming, but where will it lead? There needs to be a conclusion, an ending and it needs to be interesting. Maybe some humour would make it interesting, some interaction with other characters. Perhaps I could lead up to a climax? The climax could be good or bad, but it is usually exciting. Then there can be an ante climax, something leading up to an exciting event.

So I could have a young guy, on a narrow boat, travelling the canals of England. He struggles with his inner demons, his loneliness and bad memories. He searches for something, but is unsure of what he needs or what it is he is looking for. He enjoys the peace and tranquillity of the journey and is welcomed at the various places he stops. He chats to the lockkeepers, visits the canal side pubs always looking for something or someone.

What do you think the climax of the story could be? What could the story be leading up to? What could happen in the meantime as an ante climax? Please comment and leave your thoughts…

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: How to write a novel | The storyline « Mike10613's Blog

  2. Pingback: How to write a novel | details and authenticity « Mike10613's Blog

  3. Pingback: How to write a novel | The story so far « Mike10613's Blog

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