30 Ways To Start A Novel 

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There are many ways to start a novel, but sometimes how to begin just eludes you. Well, here are 30 possible ways to start a novel (or a scene, for that matter) to give you some inspiration:

1.The arrival of a letter, email, or package. (The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield.)
This could be momentous. However, it could simply tell the reader about the character’s everyday life, such as a distasteful private message on a dating site.

2. A main character in a frustrating situation.
This can also give the reader a feel for her everyday life, while making them empathise with her right away. Maybe her car has broken down, or her cat is puking.

3. A main character in an awkward or embarrassing situation.
Maybe her cat is puking on the lap of a visitor she was trying to impress.

4. The discovery of a dead body. (Thief of Shadows, Elizabeth Hoyt. Also about a million mysteries.)

5. The death of somebody in the family or the community. (All The Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy; The Known World, Edward P. Jones.)
This is a popular one, and understandably so, because an ending is a new beginning.

6. The beginning or the middle of a disaster. (All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, kind of.)
It could be a bombing, a plane crash, or a tornado.

7. The aftermath of a disaster. (Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston.)

8. A kiss.

9. A performance, or the conclusion of one. (Bel Canto, Ann Patchett. This also has a kiss in it!)

10. A main character in the hospital. (Kindred, Octavia Butler.)

11. A main character declaring that he is in big trouble. (The Martian, Andy Weir.) The first line of The Martian is, “I’m pretty much fucked.” But your character’s situation could be somewhat less dire: “I had no chance of doing well that morning.”

12. A main character who’s clearly in big trouble. (What Is the What, Dave Eggers.)
She might be getting mugged or running from Nazi soldiers. Readers will start caring about her immediately.

13. The arrival of a plane, ship, or train. (The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas.)
The character might be on board, or he might be watching it come in.

14. A scene at a party, a bar, or a nightclub. (War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy; The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss.)

15. A fight. (The Warrior, Zoë Archer.)
The character may be part of the fight, or just witnessing it.

16. A character moving in to a new place.
It could be a neighborhood, a dorm room, or a new country.

17. A broad statement about one’s life. (One For the Money, Janet Evanovich.)
One For the Money begins, “There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me — not forever, but periodically.” That’s a great hook.

18. A dramatic moment in the middle or end of the story. (The Secret History, Donna Tartt.)
You can begin here and then backtrack to explain how they got there. For instance, the prologue of The Secret History begins, “The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.”

19. A trial in a courtroom. (Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson; also an example of #18.)
A milder version of this could be your character faces a judge or jury in the form of a parent, a manager, or a peer.

20. A job interview.
I really like this idea because you could get a lot of information across about your character naturally. She might be giving appropriate answers while her internal monologue tells you the rest of the story. Also, an applicant at a job interview is in a vulnerable position, which I think would create empathy for your heroine right away.

21. A main character meets someone new. (Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë)
A stray cat? A future lover? Someone important, probably.

22. A street scene. (Perdido Street Station, China Miéville.)
Your character could be getting an errand done or going to visit somebody. For a novel that takes place in an historical, futuristic, or fantasy setting, this can be a good way to establish a sense of place as well as establish your character’s normal life and priorities.

23. A main character in a triumphant situation.
Set her up before you knock her down. She could be giving a speech, winning a race, or accepting an award. It could also be a smaller personal triumph, such as successfully fixing a car or turning in her term paper on time.

24. A character or characters getting dressed, shaving, putting makeup on, or doing their hair. (The Makioka Sisters, Junichiro Tanizaki.)

25. A big, happy occasion such as a wedding or a graduation.
Of course, it might or might not be happy for your main character, who may be a participant or someone in the audience.

26. One character teaching another how to do something.
This is another way to establish your main character’s personality and his everyday life. If he’s a father, he could be teaching his son to hunt or to cook rice properly. If he’s an insurance salesperson, he could be giving the new guy some tips.

27. A visitor showing up at the door. (The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler.)
The main character might be the visitor or the person answering the door.

28. A main character coming across a significant object.
It could be a photograph of a lover she intended to forget, or strange relic that turns out to be magical.

29. A character committing a crime.
He might be the main character, or he might be the antagonist.

30. A character or characters completing a task. (Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens.)
This could be an unusual or startling task, or a more ordinary one with emotional significance.

By now, your creative juices should be spilling over. So hop to it! 🙂

Via: http://bryndonovan.com/

Literary Devices: How To Master Setting

Setting

This week Writer’s Blog will be exploring literary devices to help you along with your writing. Literary devices are techniques and structures writers employ to convey their message and story. When done well, the use of literary devices can alter, manipulate and challenge the way a reader perceives any work. Used masterfully, literary devices influence how a story or essay can be interpreted and analysed, as well as how much the reader enjoys the work. Today’s device is Setting:

How To Master Setting

On its most basic level, the setting of your story is simply the location at which your story takes place, like a set to a stage show. This includes the location, the immediate surroundings, the weather and the time. But quite often, the setting is much more than just the ‘where and when’ of your story.

The setting will show much about your characters – their lifestyle, how they respond to recognisable and unfamiliar environments and how they are feeling. The description of an environment familiar to the reader can even direct them to special memories of their own. Rather than simply throwing your characters into an apartment building ‘just because’, consider how that setting will affect your characters and your plot. Think about how the location and time can be symbolic or metaphorical.

Genre

The type of story you are writing will have a significant impact on the way you describe your setting. In a thriller, the author employs dark imagery and metaphor to evoke a feeling of discomfort in the reader.

In a fantasy, the setting is full of mystery, twinkling lights and tree trunks so thick you can’t wrap your arms around them. The characters may stumble upon a misty swamp, escape from a gloomy dungeon or ride on a dragon’s back amongst the orange clouds of an evening sky. The magic is never too far away.

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Research

If your story happens in a real place, be sure to research that place. Many readers love to read about towns and cities where they have lived or places they have visited. It is essential, therefore, that you get your facts straight. If you make up a new building, great, but don’t be too specific about its location. If you go one step further and make up an entirely new place, of course you can do what you like with it but make sure the general geographic details are realistic.

If possible, it helps to spend time in your setting. Absorb the sounds, the sights, the smells and the feelings caused by your environment. Be there at different times of the day. A city street at nine o’clock in the morning on a weekday looks very different on a Saturday night. Check that any flora or fauna you mention can realistically be found in that region of the world. You won’t find a polar bear in the Australian outback (unless your character builds a zoo in Coober Pedy). Also check that your weather patterns are feasible.

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Observation

Observing your environment forms part of your research. You should be on the lookout for ideas whenever you visit a new place. In fact, you should be on the lookout for ideas whenever you visit a familiar place! You might just spot the perfect place for a… [insert action here!]

Many writers, especially those who like to go through rigorous planning stages before starting to write, develop a template on which they write notes about a new setting. These notes can include general impressions at first sight, sensory impressions, climate, style and age of the buildings and even types of transportation. If you do decide to develop such a sheet, you don’t have to fill in every detail for every piece of writing. Or, you might just need to modify your sheet to suit the genre. Nevertheless, the more details you remember, the more realistic your setting will be when you sit down to write. If you’re not into note-taking, newspaper clippings, travel brochures and your own photographs are excellent memory-joggers.

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Escape

Vivid descriptive passages give readers a chance to escape to a totally different world. That is the beauty of reading! You might see the inner-workings of unusual occupations or delve into a dark sanctum with a team of cave divers, facing your own fear of the underground. How does the CEO of a multimillion dollar company survive the rigours of the daily grind? Many authors sprinkle inside information into their settings, details that might otherwise be overlooked by a writer who hasn’t done their research or lacks life experience in the subject on which they are writing.

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Character’s Viewpoint

Try not to spend too many precious words on descriptive passages without showing the setting from your character’s viewpoint. Not only will this keep your readers entertained but they will also understand your character’s mood without telling them directly. If your character wants to be alone, the never-ending line of apple trees in the sun-kissed orchard looks pretty good. But if they’re searching for someone or hiding from a murderer, the apple trees may take on a different, more sinister appearance.

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As a writer, I’m driven by settings. Others are driven by characters or predicaments, but with me, settings come first” – Jim Lynch

The setting might be the catalyst on which your story is developed. Author Jim Lynch starts writing once he has chosen a ‘where’. But no matter where you choose to start writing, crafting your setting skilfully can take your story to the next level.

Via: http://writersedit.com/literary-devices-setting