Writing Your Next Story (part 1)

writing next story

Beginnings were never meant to be easy… or impossible. Beginnings are perhaps the hardest parts about writing a novel. And whether you’re finishing your current novel or already completed it and ready for the next, the best thing an author can do is always think about their next novel. It’s one of the many keys to success. Without your next release, how will you gain more readers? How will your current fanbase return or remember you? The next novel is always something we need to think about in the back of our mind.

One of my main goals with this new blog is that I wanted to focus more on writing posts. I wanted to do more with posts that will help aspiring writers, authors, and everyone else in between. Since I’m finished with Clara and Claire and awaited on the feedback from beta readers, I wanted to catch up on my blog posts. And with my fifth novel moving closer to publication I’m facing the fact that soon I’ll be starting my next novel. It’s both exciting and scary at the same time.

Everyone’s process for picking a book to write is different. I can’t tell you what to write any better than the person next to you. No one knows what’s in your heart, what you are going to be the most passionate about. But that’s what makes this novel (whether it’s your first or tenth) yours.  You want to pick a novel you can be dedicated to, one you can pour your heart into. It’s what readers will notice instantly when they begin the story.

Since everyone’s process is so vastly different, what works for me might be different for you. Not everything might apply to you, and that’s okay. If anything I have learned over the years that we’re still able to pick up new ideas from fellow authors even if we don’t use them exactly as they did. The writing community (and publishing one too) is huge. Sometimes it’s downright overwhelming, but over and over again I’ve found that most writers are great with giving back to the community. We seem to have a secret understanding that we can help one another. And now I want to give back to the community I love.

One of the first things I did when starting Clara and Claire was purchase the Novel Planner. Kristen did an amazing job with this planner, and it’s very open ended so you can use it again for future projects –it’s not a one and done kind of book. I’ll most likely be using it again with my next book as well. It might not be for everything, but I think it’s well worth checking out because you never know when it might come in handy.

Regardless of if you’re using the planner or one of your own methods, getting the main story idea down is key. There are several aspects you’re going to need to decide on right away before even writing down a title or your character’s names.

  • Genre
  • Audience
  • End goal

Genre seems obvious, but this is important so you stick to it and can please your audience. The audience is important to decide in the beginning because this will allow you to determine what material is and isn’t appropriate. And lastly the end goal is what you want this novel to accomplish for both you and your readers. The end goal is also a good time to come up with an ideal word count (because again keep in mind your audience), but I wouldn’t stress on it too hard especially in the beginning phases.

Once you have those three things, you’ll want to start playing with the ideas for your characters and the plot. Inspiration is key. Find pictures on Pinterest (or other websites) for inspiration or motivation. Looks up models or cover art for ideas to bring your characters to life. The most important part of beginning your next novel is all about shaping the novel. That first chapter you want to write so badly might not be written for several days or even a week (depending on how much time you put into planning and etc.). Again it’s different for everyone, and no set time can be said for any one writer. You spend the time you think is necessary, and when you’re ready to write the first chapter you’ll know.

The most important thing to remember is to not start the first chapter until you’re ready. Once you start writing it’ll be important for you to keep moving forward. There will be times now and again when you go back, but you don’t want to end up entirely back at the start and frustrated. Prepare yourself as much as you can before you put the first word on the paper, and you’ll have a much more pleasant and easier time. The story can’t work without the characters, and the characters can’t function without a clear objective. The ending might not be clear in your mind when your first begin, but make sure you choose a story that you will be able to build an ending for.

 

Since this post is getting close to 1k words, I’m going to split this into a 2 part topic. The next post I’ll share on Tuesday. I didn’t want to leave this topic without feeling like it was fully discussed, and if you think I’m leaving anything out so far please comment and let me know. Any questions or suggestions I’ll get back to in the following post.

Lindsey Richardson

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