Talk about intimidating. How much research should you do before you start? Tons? Very little? Should you make an outline chapter by chapter? Just start writing? Start that novel and know the ending? Have no clue about the ending? Write in a quiet place? Noisy place? Starbucks? The variables of how to start are multifaceted and different for everyone.
Some writers are disciplined and outline every chapter before they start their opus. Others just start. There is no right or wrong approach this. Perhaps if you have a book contract and a deadline, you take the organized route. Me? I take my time and approach a book often not knowing the ending. While this causes dismay among lay folk, writers understand it: the characters tell the story. It’s their tale and they will give up the ending as your writing progresses. Be true to your characters and they will be true to you. I have said more than once, “I can’t wait to get home to see what happens in my story.” Non-writers are shocked by this. When I write, I get into a zone and feel I am the conduit for my characters. I am at their disposal to tell their story.
I need a certain comfort level before I start tapping away on the keyboard. Like all of us, I need a topic, an event, a specific theme and then I do a certain amount of research to become familiar with the locale, pertinent history, geography, mores, etc. What is critical for all writing is to know your protagonist’s personal history inside out. Where were they born? Who were their parents? Any siblings? What was their education? Special abilities. Childhood illnesses? Vacations? Favorite foods? Allergies? Medications taken? Music likes? Favorite authors and books? Movies? You get the picture. You may not use most of this, but the more you know about your character, the more real they become. Sprinkling “realistic” facts throughout your story gives depth, and enables the reader to relate to them. Once you have a basic comfort level with who your main character is, what the general plot will be, I urge you to begin. The minute you start, you are on your way to becoming a writer. Your journey will never be straight or unimpeded. There will be roadblocks, unexpected twists and turns, and dark alleys . . . rather than avoid, explore with relish and zeal.
I am interested in hearing how others approach starting a novel? This will be helpful to all.