I don’t know about you guys, but one of my favourite things about writing is coming up with the initial idea! It is such an exciting time filled with hope. It is without a doubt, my favourite part of the writing process. If I could make a living out of coming up with novel ideas, then I totally would!
At the moment, I have two ideas swirling around in my head. One of them is a YA contemporary, and the other is a YA fantasy. I’ll start writing whatever one manifests in my head first, but I’m thinking it will be the YA fantasy because I’m desperate to pen an epic romance. It’s inside me just dying to come out.
But how do you turn an idea (an epic romance, fantasy, young adult) into a novel? I’m not really a plotter or a pant’ser, I just keep brainstorming until I feel like writing instead. I’m sure everyone has different approach but mine looks a little like this:
1. Decide what novel I want to write – aka. a young adult, fantasy, with strong romantic elements.
2. Who are the characters? – I always start with my main character, her love interest, and whoever she hangs out with before the love interest comes along. I start with three or four main players. I figure out their names, what they look like, and what their overall “thing” is – for example, assassin, wallflower, geek, warrior, witch, etc. A big broad overlaying nutshell. I also figure out what they love the most in the world – like their hobby and something they always deviate back to – gardening? art? studying? music? etc.
3. Where are they? – Small town? Kingdom? Country or city? I figure out the location, its name, and visualise some landmarks, although I usually leave most of that until I’m actually writing.
4. What is the story about? – Once I have a general idea of the characters and where they are, I have to decide what they’re working towards. What’s the motivation? What’s keeping her from it? What does my main character want and what will happen if she doesn’t get it? This starts to form the idea into a plot. I think a lot about motivation, stakes, and I always plan out the beginning, rock bottom, and the end.
5. Brainstorm – Then I keep brainstorming (usually to instrumental music) until I feel like writing 🙂 I’m a pretty goal orientated writer, so if I want to write a 75,000 word novel, then I know I’ll have around 25 chapters at 3,000 words each. I usually make a list from 1 to 25 and write what points I need to hit in each to make it to the end. Somewhere in the process I’ll come up with a great way to start chapter one and start writing, then I’ll “pants” it from there!
How do you guys turn an idea into a novel? Brainstorming? A lot of browsing through Pinterest? Do you plot out the entire novel? Or just start writing and hope for the best?