Six questions you should be asking every time you start a book, part 1
When you start out a new book, whether you’re a pantser, plotter, or somewhere in between, it’s always good to have some basic questions answered when you sit down to start writing a new book. If you’re a true plotter, you may not know very much about your story or even the characters that are going to enact it, but you have some idea of what the story will be and a general idea of who your main characters are. Plotters, of course, will have complete knowledge of what the story will be and exactly who their characters are. Neither way is right, neither is wrong, it’s just the way different people are happier writing their work.
But to begin with, no matter how you write here are some questions I think you should ponder, if not answer outright and in detail.
- Why are you writing the story? What is your own personal goal and objectives for doing so? As you sit down to start writing what will probably end up being at least a 60,000 word book (or it could end up being 120,000 words or 200,000 and split up into a couple of books) you need a good incentive, a good reason as to why you are going through the torture, the joy, the pain, and the exaltation of writing a novel. And it’s quite possible that somewhere along the way (frequently around the 20-30,000 word mark for new writers) you’re going to have to remind yourself exactly why you decided to start this crazy exercise. When you do, you will have what you write here to fall back on and remind yourself why writing this book is so important.
- What is the point of the book? What are you trying to say about human nature and the world? Every book, no matter how light the subject matter, no matter what the genre, says something about either human nature or the world (or both). Some authors think of this as the theme of the book. What is the overarching idea or concept you want to get across to your reader by the time they finish reading your work? Sometimes this can come through your main characters’ goals, or possibly through what they’re fighting against to attain those goals. And frequently an author won’t know the answer to this question until they’re finished writing. That’s fine. It’s just something to think about as you get started.
- What is the story question? Every story poses a question at the beginning and that question is answered by the end. It’s one reason why readers need to keep going, need to keep reading. They need to find the answer to this question. One note on story question: if you’re writing a romance, try to make the story question something beyond ‘will they live happily ever after?’ because we know that if the book is truly a romance, they will. We already know the answer to that question. Likewise with a mystery. “Will the murderer be discovered?” is probably not a good story question unless you’re putting an unusual twist in your story where the story ends without anyone knowing who carried out the crime. So there needs to be more there, and again, it is frequently tied in with your characters’ goals.
And just because I’ve been having trouble thinking of blog topics and I don’t want to write a really long post, I’m going to stop here. I’ve got three more questions for you to consider, but you’re going to have to come back next week to find out what they are. 😊 Don’t you hate a cliffhanger?!
Oh, and if there are any subjects I haven’t covered in my blog that you’d like me to please, please, please, either post them in the comments or contact me! Thanks!