There is nothing quite like the feeling of coming up with a brilliant idea for a new book. It might come to you in a flash when you are relaxing or thinking about other things, you might see or hear something that inspires you, or you might have had the idea at the back of your mind for a long time and feel now is the time to explore it further.
However you happened upon your initial book idea, it can be an exciting time when you get that first spark.
Knowing what to do with it next, however, can be a little more tricky. Writing a novel is no mean feat after all, and while it can be tempting just to jump right in and start, without researching and taking the time to understand your story idea and whether it can work, you can end up in trouble.
Some writers like to simply write and see where it takes them. While this can be freeing and productive, most writers find that they end up backing themselves into a corner. Suddenly their story runs out of steam, or the plot has gotten so complicated there is no keeping track of what is going on, or they have backed themselves into a corner, and there is nowhere left to go.
Finding out that your story isn’t going to work when you’ve already invested time and energy into it can be very disheartening. That's why it is a good idea to take some steps to ensure you can get from chapter one, right through until the end.
So how do you do this?
Shape your idea
Once you have your brilliant initial idea, don’t stop there. Spend lots of time bending and shaping it, experimenting with it and allowing it to grow. Think about your characters motivations, work out how to add unique twists to your plot, push the limits of your imagination by breaking from the mould. One great idea does not make a novel so make sure you spend time adding to it and then chipping away at it and then adding to it again until your idea is something much more sculpted and much more powerful as a result.
Pay attention to everyone and everything.
It’s easy to get too focused on your main characters and too bogged down in the main plot. However, a good book has minor characters and subplots as well, and these should be just as fierce and imaginative and intriguing and fantastic as the rest of your novel. Make sure it has depth and layers and make sure you can tie everything together at the end. When writing your first draft write about everything, include it all, pack your story full of interesting characters and places and things to make it burst from the page.
Give it pace
To write a book, you need enough material to keep it going. If you find that you are struggling to find enough to say or are trying too hard to fill out your chapters, so they are long enough, you’ll soon find your book will feel slow and lethargic. Keep up the energy, pick up the pace and if parts of your plot feel slow, work out how to add drama, to amp them up and drive them forward, so you write a real page-turner.
Get rid of the excess
Once you’ve written your first draft, you can now start to strip it back. Get rid of everything that isn’t necessary, even if it’s brilliantly written. You’ll know when something has no place being in your book, and even though it may hurt to take it out, it’s the only way to make your story truly great.
By implementing these techniques, you’ll take your story from its initial idea to something far more exciting, something tangible, well-developed and ultimately something that you can be truly proud of. Developing your book ideas takes focus, but doing so, and allowing oneself the time to truly explore the creative process will mean that your book will be all the better, and no doubt your readers will think so too!
Another thing I have not been told until now. Most of my initial ideas begin in my mind. But I do know to eventually get rid of the excess--something I still seem to be working on now! But I guess we all approach this sort of thing differently, with the hopes of getting done the way we want it. I believe that is what I have been doing.