How to write a novel | The storyline
When you start to write fiction, whether it’s a short story, novella or a full length novel; you need some idea of what you’re going to write before you start. I find taking a notebook and writing a few notes helps and you also need to think about it a lot. You need a beginning, a middle and an end. You need a climax for the story and maybe an ante climax. First however, you need a protagonist, your main character and a place to start. I think I’ll call my protagonist Nick; it took me a while to think of that name. We often choose names we are familiar with, but they aren’t always suitable. We don’t really want our friends asking if we named our psychopath after them…
I now need a profile for my protagonist. He’s male obviously and I think I’ll make him fairly smart and experienced in life, but with problems. I have written about a guy who ran away to sea a few years ago; I don’t think I’ll go that far. He could run away though, in manner of speaking. Perhaps, he could go on a road trip in one of those big camper vans? That could take him to lots of different places around England enjoying it’s beauty and meeting all kinds of people. Places like in my picture, perhaps? He would need money to do that, but I could make Nick a fairly successful character who has made a fair amount of money and wants to go exploring while he’s still young. How young though? Maybe mid twenties, that would give me a lot of romantic possibilities. Do I really want a romance though or purely an adventure. We all have our fantasies. We dream of one day being an explorer, a world traveller, a mountain climber or a celebrity. Maybe Nick could have a wandering spirit and yearn the the life of a gypsy. He could perhaps like the styles and wear gypsy styled clothing. He could have the long hair, an earring in one ear and have rugged good looks! I think I’ll give him a hat too and a pony tail! He sort of looks like he’s half cowboy and half gypsy, but I think I’m getting there. What do you think? Maybe a gold ring on his little finger or something? A ring on the little finger is supposed to signify that a man is single and available; that would work. How about a tattoo?
So Nick gives up his old life and sets off to tour the English Countryside, he wants to explore, meet people and experience what the places have to offer. He wants to stop at farms and buy fresh new laid eggs. He wants to drink beer in old world pubs and have fascinating conversations with the locals. He will drive around, stopping for the night at anywhere he thinks he can park up safely for the night. He would need to be fairly independent, wouldn’t he? To do his own shopping, cooking and cleaning.
I can imagine him getting up early one morning and looking out of his camper van onto a country pub car park. Then as he cooks his bacon and eggs for breakfast, he might see the village postman just starting his round. He might even call out to him and say hello. What could he do in the village? Would he just walk around and chat to people or get involved. He could end up doing no end of things if he was quite a friendly chap. Maybe the vicar could talk him into giving the village hall a fresh coat of paint? That could lead to all sorts of things, couldn’t it? I wonder if the vicar has a daughter? I wonder if she’s married? I wonder what time the pub opens at lunchtime?
What do you think? Where is the story leading? Is it an adventure? A romance? A comedy? It could be all three! We need the story to lead up to a climax. What could that be? There could also be an ante climax before the big event in the story too. I also need an ending. We want the readers to read to the end and maybe beyond, if we are thinking of writing a sequel. We could have a twist at the end. Maybe Nick could travel the highways and byways of England only to lose everything. He could lose all his money, his camper van, the lot. Then right at the end, he could be offered a home in the village where he is so popular and maybe even get the girl. I know, that is so predictable. Can your do better? Perhaps, put your idea in the comment box? Can your think of a good climax or a good ending? What will become of Nick?
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