Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How to Get Ideas for a Novel

All stories start with an idea. Ideas are easy to find - just look around you and take notice of the environment, but mostly the people. Peculiar habits of friends, family and strangers often spark an idea for a character in a novel or short story. A family member or friend who reacts predictably to his or her environment affords the writer a wealth of information upon which a character can be build. Take notice of the manner in which people talk and gesture. In short - pay attention to others and the ideas for a new character will flow.

Characters are not enough to build a story on. You also need a plot or story line. In other words, what is the story about? You need to be able to summarize in one sentence what the central theme of the story would be. If someone reads the story, he or she must be able to identify the central theme. A romance novel's theme would for example be "friendship grows into love" or "helping someone in need leads to love". This central idea is the 'premise' of the story.

Most people think finding an original premise is an impossible task to accomplish, as there are thousands of romance novels, mysteries and science fiction books for sale. Even if your idea involves the classic romance between teenage sweethearts who grew apart over the years only to find each other later in life, it would still be your own unique characters with their own personality doing the romancing. Your characters will develop the story in their own way and if you stay true to the personality you gave the character, there will be no duplication of another novel.

Once you have the idea or premise of the story, you can begin to develop characters for the story and plot an outline of how the story will develop. Some people do not create an outline for a novel and choose to write and see where the story takes them in their imagination. Although this works for some, you may easily find yourself, after having written a couple of thousand words, in a corner and not knowing how to proceed with the story. The internet contains several free downloadable software packages to assist in planning the outline of the novel as well as writing the actual story - yWriter4 is a free program and can be of value to a novice writer.

Above all, read as many books on the subject of writing as you possibly can and visit free online forums for tips and ideas.

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