What’s the First Step When Beginning to Write a Novel?

This is one of those questions that has no objectively right answer. The first step when beginning to write a novel will depend on your process. Are you a plotter, working out all of the beats ahead of time and then filling in the gaps? Or are you a “pantser”, flying by the seat of your pants and making it up as you go along?

I have always been an outliner, which I guess puts me into the plotter category. With my current work-in-progress, though, I’ve kept things slack. While I know where things need to go, I’m allowing the characters and some spontaneous worldbuilding to lead me there. This is more of a journey, where I know my starting point, and point, and places I need to visit along the way. Aside from those, there’s freedom to explore.

The reason I’m comfortable in doing this is because I have no deadline. I want to get the first draft completed by the end of February, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. My only expectation is that the bones will be there. In a lot of ways this process has been more like creating an extended outline, albeit with a lot more detail. The focus is on trying to be good, rather than to be done.

What’s the First Step When Beginning to Write a Novel?

Okay reader, what’s your process? You don’t have to be a participant in The Merry Writer game to play along here!

The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.

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