From Your Brain to the Page
So, a few weeks back, I wrote about how to keep going once you have started writing your book. But how on earth do you start? How do you know that the idea in your head can be a novel?
Let's think back to middle school when you first learned the plot diagram. Well, at least that is when I recall learning it. When you think of your idea, draw your plot triangle. Exposition (beginning), rising action, climax (turning point), falling action, and resolution (ending). This is literally what I did when the idea for The Ocean's Daughter came to my mind. I drew out my diagram and marked what was happening at different moments. I had about three to four chapters for the exposition, about ten to fifteen for the rising action, one chapter for the climax, three for falling action, and one for my resolution. Every chapter I marked, I wrote a one-sentence description of what would happen in that chapter. It needed to progress the plot and deepen the characters. If you're struggling to fill your diagram thoroughly, maybe it's only coming out to ten chapters, maybe it is a novella or a short story, or maybe to need to wait for later and see what your brain says then. And that is okay! But if you go for it, you may find that you're struggling to write something at the length you envisioned.
When you open that Word document, don't be afraid of the blank page. It's your canvas for you words. And you have that roadmap right beside you. Of course, you don't have to stick precisely to your plot diagram. You will grow as you write, and so will your characters. You might realize you have a better idea or change a character arc, which would change your plot. That is the fun of writing. You are building a world and the world is full of surprising changes. Literally, that is why you write. It helps me to record the changes in my plot diagram. Sometimes I even sit down and make a new one. It helps me see how the change will affect the plot I imagined.
But do not just think of one moment of an idea and think that once you open your word document, and the entire novel is going to flow out of you. I'm sorry if that's what you thought would happen. Take it one step at a time, and don't give up when the going gets tough. It will take your determination and heart to turn that idea into a story and that story into a novel.