So you want to write. Great, but about what?
I’ve found that there are fazes of difficulty when it comes to writing a novel. The first phase, trying to figure out what to write about, is sometimes so off-putting that the writing process starts and ends there.
Finding inspiration for a poem, short story, play, novel, etc. doesn’t have to be so repulsive that you abandon ship before setting sail.
Take a second to look around you. There’s inspiration everywhere. You may find it in a conversation you overhear, the way the sky looks at sundown after a storm, or a song. If you’re anything like me, you’ll just get this feeling inside. I would think the feeling is similar to a bride trying on the perfect wedding dress for the first time.
Take for example the plot for my novel, Lost Girls. For me, the inspiration came after watching a video on YouTube one morning while eating breakfast before heading off to college. Within seconds of the video, I knew I would write a novel one day with that as the inciting incident. I had no clue it would be my first completed novel or that I would finish it almost two years to the date of first seeing the video, but that video left an itch inside of me, an itch to write.
I sat on the idea for a good month or two before planning anything. I knew I wanted my female protagonist, who later became Felicity Walker, to find the missing person posters in the middle of the woods like the man in the video did. But that was too boring of a story by itself. So what if she found missing person posters? Sure, I assume that in itself is a scary event, but that wasn’t enough of a plot to write a novel about. That’s when I decided she was on one of the missing person posters.
For another few months, I bounced back and forth of the reaction she would have. Would she run home and talk to her parents about it? Would she spend the whole novel trying to solve this mystery, just to find out she was kidnapped as a child? That would make for an interesting novel, but it started to develop further into a crime novel rather than a thriller.
I once read a blog that said to give your character the least chance of survival. It said to think of all the possible things that could go wrong in that character’s life and give it to them. Take the Harry Potter series for example. Harry was an orphan who was not only the outcast in his new family, he was also hated beyond belief. When he finally felt like he belonged in the wizarding world, it was revealed he’s The Boy Who Lived, which immediately isolated him from half of that world. As the stories progressed, Harry and his friends faced countless hardships.
This little tip then gave me the idea to make Felicity an orphan with a dark past to add so much more depth and emotion to the inciting incident of the novel.
For the characters in Lost Girls, I half used tidbits of people in my real life to help with character development. What really helped me truly get inside the mind of a character through the developing storyline was to do just that- get in their head(s). For this I took a personality test, answering each questions as for how I think my character would react. The answers from the test helped me understand the reasoning behind said character’s actions and how they would normally interact with individuals and their surroundings based on their personality.
From there, these little ideas turned into a full-length novel. Don’t get me wrong, the process wasn’t as smooth as I make it sound. It consisted of a dozen drafts and two complete re-writes, but each time I got closer to the novel I was trying to write all along.
And to think, had I not watched that video two years ago, I wouldn’t have written a novel I love, and I hope you do too.