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How to write a novel |Making a start

Oak House 099

If you are new to this blog, I am writing a novella, a short novel. My protagonist is Nick whose parents are killed in a tragic accident in America. He sells up and goes on a road trip and meets Lily, a young lady from New England. Then a love-hate relationship forms with emotional and amusing consequences. The beginning of the story is sad and so that will contrast with the funny stuff that comes later. I need an opening, a beginning to the story that will be the sad start to the saga. It is a novella and so it has to be fast paced, no long drawn out narration or dialogue.

How about this for a start? It’s not great, it will need editing, but we have to start somewhere:

He rushed back to the house, when he heard the phone ring and his heart began to race as he recognised the accent as being American.

“Is this the home of Robert and Tracy Smith?” the voice asked.

“Yes, this is Nick Smith. They’re my parents. Is everything alright?”

“Hi Nick, I’m so sorry to tell you everything isn’t alright. This is Investigator Dalton of the Los Angeles police department. There has been a terrible accident.”

“Are my parents OK?” Nick asked, the pitch of his voice raised, as he feared the worst.

“I am so sorry, there was a terrible road accident,” the officer continued, “They didn’t make it.”

“They can’t be dead…” Nick trembled as he said it, hardly believing what he was hearing.

“I am so sorry,” the officer repeated, “I think you should come out here, there are arrangements to be made.”

“Yes, of course, give me your number,” Nick said, trying to compose himself.

The officer gave Nick his number and Nick said he would fly out to California to make the arrangements to bring his parents home, as soon as possible. He sat down, hardly believing the news he had just received. Nick was an only child and only had one relative that he really knew. He must phone his parent’s friends and colleagues and his Aunt Paula, his father’s sister.

The beginning must convey the emotion, the shock that Nick felt when he learnt that he had lost his parents. The story would then unfold as he realised people would need to be told and he would have to fly to California. The beginning is a tragedy, but it develops into a romantic comedy. The tragic beginning could be drawn out if it was a novel, but being a novella, I can keep it fast paced. That appears to be what the modern reader who is short of time prefers. I have cut down on the narration with that final paragraph where I relate the end of the conversation and what Nick does as a result of the conversation.

I have an ending for the novella, now I need to get Nick on the road, but first his trip to California. I don’t want that too drawn out. I can perhaps narrate briefly what the funeral was like without going into too much dialogue.

I want to get to the funny part of the story, where Lily gets stranded and Nick is obliged to help her fairly quickly. While I am writing the run up to Nick and Lily meeting, I can write some funny lines for the two of them to bounce off each other.

The humour should be English versus American. I can have Lily frustrated at Nick’s typically English behaviour and tastes and Nick frustrated at Lily’s typical American cultural behaviour and tastes. Nick can be quiet and unassuming, Lily can be quite loud and assertive. There would be problems as they are thrown together on a road trip. Little things like running out of clean underwear could elicit hilarious dialogue. Trying to use the very cramped toilet that is also a shower and maintain their dignity could be challenging and provide a humorous interlude. Even their different tastes in food could inspire love-hate conflicts. I need funny lines! Do you have any ideas?

I’m desperate for ideas. Please comment! Please share too, I’m desperate for readers too! There are more blogs on the home page to read.

8 responses

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