Type ‘How to start writing a book’ into google, and you’ll enjoy spending the following week looking at the plethora of advice before you! If you trawl through it all, however, you will find some common themes. We look at one in this blog – how to settle on an initial idea.
For me personally, I need a clear desk with lots of notebooks and funky looking pens around. Only then do I start to write down ideas for titles and see if there are any words that will follow each title. Some titles fall by the wayside very quickly – there just isn’t enough behind the title to merit a novel-length effort. Others stick – and these are the ones I start to develop. When I have lots of writing surrounding one particular title, I know I have enough substance for a novel.
Bestselling author of Letters to Eloise and Rafferty Lincoln Loves, Emily Williams, says that she usually has a blank book at the ready or a large piece of paper pinned to the wall. It can take her ages to think of the initial idea, but when it finally hits, she jots down everything related to that idea until it forms a plot. Letters to Eloise practically wrote itself, Emily tells me, but other novels she has started have floundered and stopped along the way – there simply hasn’t been enough to write on the paper to keep the idea flowing.
“Using the paper on the wall method shows me very quickly which ideas are likely to go the distance and which aren’t,” Emily says.
Before Emily starts to write a novel, the ending needs to have been written on the piece of paper – it is only once she has that that she begins.
“To be honest I wish the ideas came more often, but at least I know that when they do, it’s usually enough to spark everything into action!”
It’s an important point that both Emily and myself need to write lots of ideas before we find the ones that have enough substance behind them to merit 80,000 words. So in this short blog, our top tip would be to keep writing down your ideas and fleshing them out until you have one you feel could stretch to 80,000 words. Good luck! And thank-you Emily for sharing.
Emily Williams lives by the seaside in West Sussex with her family and a menagerie of small pets. After graduating from Sussex University with a BA in Psychology, Emily trained as a primary school teacher and teaches in a local school. Letters to Eloise and Rafferty Lincoln Loves are available on amazon.