The Joy of Starting a Novel

starting a novelTo counterbalance last week’s post about the joy that comes from finishing a novel, today I’m starting a novel.

I’m on deadline for this novella, The Yuletide Bride, due out as an ebook on November 3, 2014 from Barbour, as part of The Twelve Brides of Christmas.

(More information will come later)

Still on my euphoric high and thus quite cheerful, I wondered this morning how I should mark this auspicious day.

Should I have a ritual for starting to write a project?

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I couldn’t think of one and since I’m a writer by trade, today was just another day in the office. I put on my “winter writing clothes” (see photo), which includes my UCLA vest and jeans. I opened the window a crack, printed out the synopsis and went to work.

Pure joy.

Chapter One.

I was off.

The Yuletide Bride is the story of a young couple in 1870 Nebraska. I’m not going to tell you any more because while I have a synopsis that is going smoothly, I often tweak things and plot points change as I write. I know how it ends (it’s a romance; you do, too), but how they progress and the extra layering that will come is not yet firm.starting a novel

I wrote the synopsis nearly three months ago and remembered it was good. I drew my usual plotting diagram (this time on a blue card), and it’s been waiting for me to return to the story. I suspect, as usual, that I have too much story for the allotted word count, so I took the synopsis and broke it up into the appropriate chapters: odd chapters are told from Ewan’s point of view, even chapters from Kate’s.

That presented a few problems because I wanted the final chapter in Ewan’s point of view, but I think I’ve figured out how to make it all work.

Today I wrote nearly three complete chapters; 4500 words of the 15,000 word novella. I’m optimistic and enjoying myself.

I like to leave off  before I’ve finished writing a chapter, so I can jump right back in when I return to the project.

If I finish a chapter before quitting time, I often will start the next one, even if I only write five or six paragraphs–again, to enable me to get started right away with the story.

I like to think of it like sourdough starter. You add some flour and stir everyday to keep it growing.

It also gives the boys in the basement something to think about while I’m living real life.

I ran into a couple facts that needed checking and Google has been helpful. I hope to personally handle a set of bagpipes soon, and I’ve got notes on fiddle playing. I’ve been listening to renditions of the music Charles Ingalls played to his family about the same time as the setting for my story.

starting a novel: File:TheIngallsFamily.jpg

The Ingalls family

Thinking about Ma and Pa Ingalls, Laura, Mary and Carrie, cheers me considerably (even though they’re not in this story).

I interviewed a couple friends on the phone, consulted a list of Scottish last names, scanned photos from a book about musical instruments, and looked through photos of Nebraska on Pinterest.

This novella is not requiring researching depth anything near what I’ve just gone through with my World War I story. For an overview of that research project, read my post on the Books & Such Literary Agency blog here.

It’s been a good day.

I’m thankful.

How do you go about starting a project? Do you have a ritual?

Are you nervous when you type Chapter One? Click to tweet

What’s the worst part about starting a new project? Click to Tweet



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