Wednesday, July 18, 2012

8 Helpful Questions to Ask Before You Begin Writing a Novel

Even if you’re not a plotter, I implore you (implore you, ha, you like that?) to consider the following questions before you pen your first word.

Where should I begin?
Who is this story being told to? (Thanks Susan Meissner for writing an excellent post on this. Wish I could find it.)

How can I use setting to help tell this story?

What will be the main source of tension for my main character?
Why will readers care about my protagonist or care what happens in this book? (Thanks to Rosslyn Elliott for this question.)

What length of time do I want to span in my novel?
Who will have the greatest influence on my protagonist?

Seems like the most obvious one, but it’s worth it to take time brainstorming...What will happen in the novel?

Bonus question: What excites me about this work & does it have staying power?

Any questions you think are imperative to consider before writing the first word?
*photos by stock.XCHNG


  1. Good questions! Glad you shared them; they're great motivators and food for thought. :)

  2. Ooo, me likey! I'm brainstorming my next book right now, so these are really helpful. I really like your bonus question, because if we're not excited by something, then our reader probably won't be either.

  3. I'm going to print this off and put it in my Book Buddy!

    One I ask myself is: What message am I trying to convey in my novel? It helps me to consider this as I'm brainstorming and creating all my characters and my plot.

  4. Great list!! The thing I need to start asking myself ahead of time is what does my protag want and who/what is stopping her? I tend to be weak in the external goal/conflict areas so that's something I need to remember.

  5. I've been told by several readers they can't pull this post up. Blogger is acting up again or maybe it's b/c superstar @JodyHedlund mentioned this post on Twitter & my stats went crazy, making my blog unavailable for those who want to comment.

    Hope it's resolved soon. I LOVE hearing from you!
    ~ Wendy

  6. I try to determine beforehand what my characters want - what they're greatest desires are - and what the motivation is behind what they do or want.

  7. I FINALLY got through!!!!

    Hmmm, great questions.

    For me, the question is do I have the literary skills to take my readers to the pits of hell and have them soar with joy by the end?

    I write for the local paper and have been told I can make people cry and make them laugh themselves silly.But an op-ed is different than a novel. One of my beta readers told me she cried three times in the first hour of reading and had to go weed her garden to get it together. I took that as a huge compliment.

  8. Hi Wendy! Great questions...Susan Meissner is a wise source of advice as well as a wonderful writer. Thanks for the shout-out and much love, as ever!

  9. These are great, especially the bonus question. I also ask: What's the hook or what makes this idea stand out? I usually put an idea on the back burner for awhile. If it keeps coming back to me and I can't stop thinking about it, it's probably the right one to work on. The others simply seem to fade away.

  10. I pulled the post up just fine, Wendy! Hmm. I think I have to find a topic that I'm completely sold-out passionate about before trying to write 80,000 words about it! I like to have a main character who is very life-like and compelling to me before I start to tell her/his story.

  11. All great questions! I think the first one I ask is "What will happen in this story?" then ask who it will happen to. :)


Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...