Writer Wednesday – One Writer’s Approach to Writing a Novel: Step 1 – The Picture

In my previous post, I wrote about the process of writing a novel.  Today I wanted to discuss my first step.

I start with a picture, or a sense of a scene like in a movie. I’m a very visual thinker, in that I think in images. I write the scene so I can put it into words, clarify it, make it real.

I get images from anywhere. I see people in a park. I see an image on the internet. I get a scene in my head. I see something, some consequence or un-told potential story, in a television show or movie.

The trick is to follow that thing you see in your head. I’ve had writers tell me, “I don’t write out of order.” Yet, these same folks are blocked and not moving forward on their story. “I see this thing over here, but I have to finish the first part before I can write it.” Why? Story is sacred. If you see it, write it. You can always go back to that first scene when you’re done. But if you have a scene in your head clamoring to get out, respect your own process and, by all that’s holy, put it down on paper or by keyboard.

A couple resources:

First, a book – Josip Novakovich’s Fiction Writer’s Workshop.
In it, Mr. Novakovich gives you an entire chapter on “Sources of Fiction” wherein he gives you examples and exercises for finding inspiration for stories. In my opinion, this book is a must-have for writers and that particular chapter is a must-do.

Second, a thought on pictures.
Google Images is a treasure-trove of ideas, as are image-specific sites like Imgur. I love to browse BeatifulMag, a fantastic, gorgeous site (not work-safe) dedicated to the beauty of the male form.  My husband’s site, Wolfshead Photography, focuses on the female form; as does Charles Oliver Jones.  Wherever you find images that speak to you, write about them – who is in the picture? I don’t mean in a literal sense, as in “Who is that model.” No, I mean something deeper. In your mind, in the privacy of your own Story, who is that person? What are they doing? Where is that place? What’s going on there?

Third, prompt yourself.
Writing prompts are a writer’s gold. Learn how to use them. Search the internet for the word “prompts” and do one of them every day for a week. Gather some other writing-minded buddies and go to a café or quite place for 2 hours and share prompts in increments of 15 minutes’ writing time, 10 minutes sharing time until the 2 hours is up – I guarantee it will fly by.

However you get ideas, trust them and write to them. Set a goal of filling a notebook a month with ideas, prompts, sketches, and miscellany. Play with your writing and write the same story three different times – once from the main character’s point of view, once from the villain’s, and once from you as the author writing about watching the events first hand. See what you learn and are inspired to write next.

Then write that next thing.

Above all, write.

Write on!

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