Saturday, May 4, 2024

How Do You Prepare to Write a Novel?


Scott D. Parker

Wednesday marked what I like to call my personal Writer’s New Year’s Day. It commemorates my decision on 1 May 2013 to write and complete the story based on a scene in my head—a man, wearing a fedora, knocking on a door, and being answered with bullets. I resolved to finish that story no matter what. I did, and it’s now called WADING INTO WAR: A BENJAMIN WADE MYSTERY.

The decision, back in 2013, was inspired by a quote whose origins I have forgotten: “A year from now, you may have wished you had started today.” By 2015, I had accomplished something else: I had formed my own company and published WADING INTO WAR.

Also over the years I have extolled the virtues of the summer season as a time with discrete bookends—Memorial Day and Labor Day—to write something. I am planning on doing that this year, but I wanted to warm up again, to get my writing muscles back into shape before I tackle the new book on 27 May.

To take this sports metaphor a bit further, when you warm up, you do smaller things. Pitchers simply throw the ball. Basketball players dribble and practice shooting free throws. Football players keep off the pads and do things at a slower rate.

For me, I’m getting back into gear by finishing an existing book I set aside last fall. I’m close to the end, maybe four or five chapters. The benefit of this kind of activity is that I only have to take the story over the finish line. I don’t have to create a whole new slate of characters and settings and plots. It’s simply a way to get my fingers back into gear and channel my imagination back into a story.

Then, come Memorial Day, it’s off to the races with the new book. 

I know some folks like to mix in short works in between novel-length projects. Others like to do some non-fiction. I’m always curious and always eager to learn from other writers: How do you prepare for starting a new novel?

No comments: