Starting at the beginning

A few weeks ago I went to a lunch with some beautiful ladies from the Bright Eyed And Bloghearted course and I was initially very terrified. I didn’t know what to expect and my gut was telling me to pull out because it was afraid, but I went and had a lovely time. All of the ladies I met were beautiful and wonderful. How could I have thought of missing that? We were all chatting one of the lovely ladies gave me the best idea, she had sat down and drafted out like 50 topics she could blog on. I was like “How in the world could you have done that?” And she told me it was easy. She started at the beginning.

It seems like the most logical place to begin, doesn’t it? Yeah. But I was still confused. I was starting at the beginning, but when I grabbed a pen and my trusty notebook (I feel like Blues Clues…) I realised that starting at the beginning meant going right back to the inception of an idea. Then the plotting, characters, world building before all of the writing.

This is where all the magic comes from.

No one believes just how much work goes into a single novel, oh fellow writers do, but the media or the TV watchers and corporate word, just don’t understand it. There is a lot of work, a lot of tossing and froing that no one sees. Which is why I’m here.

I’m going to break it down for you.

All of it. I’m going to start at the ideas point and work forward. I would really love a helping hand from all of you. Let me know about your ideas and how they come to you, what do you do with them? I need your input. Leave me comments and you’ll see the results in future posts.

Mandi is a writer, reader, dreamer and is breaking procrastinating inner editors, one at a time.


  • Josh

    I think the way I work is through the eyes of a character, of course I’m not a novelist. I’ve written short stories in the past and do a little bit of writing here and there. For me, I tend to come up with the concept behind who a character is before I ever develop a storyline. I find when I have some kind of pre-conceived notion about the way something should play out – I end up ruining continuity. I like characters that are grounded heavily in realism and are relateable When you get enough of them, they create their own stories, and from there you just have to design their world. Or set its boundaries, I should say.

    From there, I think it’s pretty straight forward. Once you have a feel for what makes them who they are, you can design everything else. As for how I get my concepts up and running…well mostly I do a lot of research. Maybe I’ll get an idea from a dream, from my daily life, or from some sort of media. From there I tend to do a lot of learning until I have a solid grasp on what a character should be like.

  • Jayme

    Most of my ideas come to me in the form of listening to music, believe it or not. I’ll be sitting around listening to a song when I will picture some kind of clear scene. Chasing Shadows was one of these. The song in question was Breaking Bad’s “Rain.” And I had this very clear image of one of the lead characters standing in tangled vine-covered ruins, in the rain, staring as the ground caved in (avoiding spoilers xD). And from there, I said to myself, “Who is this character and how did they come to be there?”

    I’m really bad about not telling my stories from the beginning, though, so this is a bit difficult for me to answer. I usually have a clear objective and have a lot of trouble getting to that objective. Some of the things I usually do before I start writing is storyboarding. Since I write fantasy, I usually write out key events I want to have occur, and then I put them into order. I also write up descriptions of the characters and the areas, and my top 5 facts about those characters. Top 5 facts = things about them that make people relate to them. I tend to tell stories about characters’ lives, though, versus the actual plotline. Probably a failing haha. xD

    Hope this helps.

    • Mandi

      Ahhh music is such a gift! I love it. I’m a bit like that, so I totally get it. And no one said that you have to be able to write from the linear beginning point! It’s always interesting to pick your brain when it comes to stories and the like. Thanks Jayme!

  • Tahlia Meredith

    I was blown away by that too! I don’t often write fiction, but when I do (insert hilarious meme ending here :p) I find that I am able to create a scene around something that popped into my head, but I get stuck on fleshing it out into a short story or longer piece.

  • Ru

    Uhhh.. Iunno? (Hugely unhelpful.)

    Concepts come to me easily. In fact, I have way, waaayyyyy too many of them waiting in the wings, to ever actually flesh out all of them. I’ll get a notion of an idea. Some brief snippet that settles itself in my brain. Immediately, I write it down. Even if I look at it later and go, “wtf does this even mean…” It’s just important to keep the idea.

    Heck, I have seven chapters on a book that I’ve been hashing out background elements in for years that all started with the phrase:

    “Our dead don’t sing… they scream.”

    That was Grace, who came up with that one. (Those familiar with my Charmer stuff know her lol) From there, I tried to get an idea as to who she was and what she was up to, that she’d use a phrase like that. Once I had her grounded as a character, I surrounded her by more characters. And then the world pretty much created itself around them. There are still elements in her world that I don’t know much about (which has created my current block on that story uhg), but I guess that’s part of the fun, too. Figuring it all out. Making it work.


    • Mandi

      Ahh love! (Baltek fangirl to the max!) But what ignites the idea? How does the concept come? I want to get right in there, almost like I want to pick your brain. How do you deal with characters and concepts suddenly popping up? How do you fan the sparks? I need to know!

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