You’ve got a great idea for a book. You’re ready to write it, but you aren’t sure how to begin. While there are tons of software products out there to help writers get started, most of them take tons of time to learn and setup, especially if you plan to fill out all the pieces of information, like character names, biographies and settings. Thankfully, you can start your next fiction project without investing a lot of time in prep work. Let me tell you how.
0. Open Your favorite Word Document and Give It a Name
You can use any title here from a working title to your story to something descriptive. I’m working on a fiction novel right now that’s saved as Vampire Erotic Thriller. I don’t actually have a proper title for it yet, so I saved it as its theme. It’s going to be an erotic vampire thriller, and that’s good enough until I get closer to finishing it.
1. Write Your Tag Line
Write down a fast sentence on what your story is about. If you plan to do query letters and agent and publisher submissions later, this sentence will become even more important. For The Blooddoll Factory, I started with the sentence – Unemployed male nurse gets a job at vampire food factory. You will put this tag line at the top of your word document. There’s no need to use a chapter heading here. You’re just putting the information you need at the top of the document.
2. Write a Paragraph About Your Book
If you have an idea for a book, you have a paragraph. This is another item that will become vitally important if you plan to submit materials to the traditional publishing side because you’ll need this paragraph for your query letters. This is also the best time to write this paragraph because your mind isn’t clouded by the details of the story and the subplots and 150 secondary characters.
For The Blooddoll Factory, I wrote: Unemployed male nurse, William Wilson, has been unemployed for a year after mixing up patient medications and getting fired from his job at Community Hospital East. He finally gets the call to come into ESA (Elite Surrogates and Adoption) for a job interview. This interview is crazy when he gets asked to prove that he can perform for the job. As he gets deeper into the job, he realizes that he isn’t helping fertile woman concieve, he is creating babies as vampire food. In an effort to stop babies from being sold as vampire food, William Wilson convinces the other staff members to hep him kill the clinic director.
If you’ve read the novel blurb on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble pages, you’ll also realized I used a variation of this paragraph as the short and long teasers in the book description. Again, this paragraph is extremely important because you will use sections of it later.
3. Name Your Main Characters and List Their Jobs
You don’t have to name every character in your book right now, but you need to name your main characters. I typically have two main characters, sometimes three. I name them before I start writing the first chapter. For The Bloddoll Factory, I made a character list. It looked something like this:
William Wilson – Male Nurse. Gets job as fertility specialist
Sadie Jones – HR Manager
Mr. Blackwell – Clinic Director
William’s Wife – Self explanatory (I didn’t name William’s wife until I was done with the book)
4. Start Your First Chapter
Once you’re done with those first four steps, add a page break and type CHAPTER 1. I like to add the days of the week to that chapter heading. I usually change them later to something more descriptive just before I publish, but in order to keep track of the time frame, my draft chapters are labeled: Chapter 1 – Monday.
You can start the actual text of the chapter anyway you want. My first drafts tend to have the character waking up so I can just start the day fresh. At some point, that intro paragraph usually gets cut because the rule of thumb is to never start a book with the character waking up in bed. There’s almost always a more interesting way to start a book, but to get rolling, the easiest way to start a book is to “wake the character up.”
Congratulations. You’ve started your book. If you plan to write your new book in its entirety, I recommend getting the first draft done in 30 to 45 days. This will ensure that you do not forget what you are doing. If you don’t plan to finish this book right now, I recommend putting down at least 10,000 words before moving on to the novel you really are going to finish. Writing down at least 10,000 words guarantees that you have enough of a start that you’ll be able to pick it back up when you’re ready to complete it.
Read More from Stacey Carroll
THE BLOODDOLL FACTORY Kindle Edition
An unemployed male nurse lands a job at a reproductive clinic only to learn the babies he is helping to create are being sold to the local vampire population.
After being unemployed for a year, William finally receives a call to come into Elite Surrogates and Adoption (ESA) for an interview. The sterile white interior does nothing for his confidence as he’s led to Sadie Jones' (HR manager’s) office where she proceeds to question him about his job experience and reproductive knowledge.
It all goes well in this paranormal medical romance until William realizes that he’s going to have to “perform” for the job. Fifty dollars an hour would help him catch up on his mortgage and get his wife to stop nagging him about the bills. However, using his own semen to propagate the reproductive cycle is more than a little weird. After considering the job and the busty HR manager, he agrees to continue the interview.