So you want to write a novel? YES! That’s awesome. It’s such a fun thing to do. There’s so many possibilities, so many things you can write about, so many ideas! It’s time to go wild. But how do you come up with these ideas you might be wondering?
Unless you’re super gifted with idea generation, which many people are, you might be struggling with the first step ever that’s usually needed to writing a novel, and that’s a stellar idea. What incredible gems are waiting to be excavated from that brain of yours?
I’ll walk you through the best steps to coming up with the best ideas to help you realise your perfect novel idea, so let’s get started.
Think of Your Passion
Sometimes finding an idea for a book is as easy as making a list of all the things you’re either passionate about, interested in, infuriated by, or just can’t get out of your head. For example, I love animals, I love science fiction, and I hate bullies. I can already come up with many ideas for that little combination: A planet full of alien animals that need protecting from an evil Earth Corporation! See how easy that was?
Give it a try, make a list of all the things that make you tick, get them down, and see if there’s anything there you can work with. Are there any connections you can make between your passions? Also try and write the WHY of why you want to write about these things your passionate about. That way, you can excavate deeper into your mind.
The Theme and Message
After you’ve thought about what your passionate about, it’s time to think about the overall message you want your readers to finish your story on. Your theme will oftentimes relate heavily to your passion. Like the example above, my passion being animals and bullies, might create the theme of: Animal abuse. Or if there’s a character trying to save animals from bullies but has to become stronger in order to do so, the theme may be: Believe in yourself.
A Flawed Protagonist
After you’ve thought about what your passionate about and what your novel’s theme will entail, it’s now time to think about your protagonist’s flaw. HOLD UP! I hear you say, what’s that? You haven’t even got a protagonist planned out yet? That’s alright. The flaw will just serve as a helping hand when you get to that point.
The Flaw is essentially the thing that stops your character from getting to the end of the story. Your character flaw is very important because it adds to their depth and gives your novel more emotion. When thinking of a flaw, try to imagine the characteristic that holds your protagonist back.
From what we’ve already got from above, let me give you an example: Ben, a young guy trained to study alien life, must overcome his lack of self confidence in order to stop his evil boss from killing all the animal species of a new planet. I know, it sounds a bit like Avatar, but the point here is that we’ve given the protagonist a flaw which serves as drama and conflict. The flaw being: a lack of self confidence.
Another really great way to come up with ideas is to make a list of dramatic events or scenes that interest you. Try and think about your favourite books, movies, games, and jot down some the events or scenes that happen in them. Again this is a great way of coming up with ideas for your novel as it helps to flesh it out.
Try and think more about dramatic scenes or those that contain some sort of conflict. The more conflict in your novel the more dramatic and tense it will be. Try and imagine what the movie Independence Day would be like without any kind of explosion.
For example, dramatic events I like to use are: Assassination scenes, car chases, war scenes, natural disasters, stampedes, illicit render vous, auctions, thefts, hostage situations. Etcetera, etcetera! As you see, there are many dramatic scenes you can inject into your novel to flesh it out.
Try and think about what you already have in terms of your Passion, Theme and Flaw, and see if you can weave a few dramatic scenes into the mix. For example:
Ben, a young scientist working for the corporation Intagalactacore, has ben tasked with collecting information on the animal species of Planet Wibblywobbly. He’s a shy guy, likes to keep to himself, but when he overhears the plan that Intagalactacore want to use his research to find the tastiest animal for a new delicacy, Ben must overcome his lack of self confidence in order to save the animals from certain destruction. In a ditch effort to do so, he releases the captured animals that stampede through the human mothership before Ben and the animals blast off down to the planet, where they’re tracked by Intagalactacore and chased through the planet’s jungles. And so on….
Conclusion and Check List
As you can see, I came up with a pretty standard story and plot from ding those short exercises. It can be pretty easy to come up with ideas once you start training your mind to do so.
- List the things that inspire you and make you passionate.
- Come up with some themes that you want your readers to come away with.
- Determine your protagonist’s flaw – the characteristic that holds them back.
- Imagine a few events you may want to happen in your novel.
- Bonus! Read more, watch more, play more. Have your inspiration on tap!
That concludes Part 1 of my Novel Writing 101. I’ll try and get something like this done each week to give you guys a better understanding of how I write my own novels.
If you have any questions or want to discuss the ideas above, either drop me a message, or leave a comment below so we can chat about it! Other than that, what things do you do to get your creative juices flowing? How do you come up with ideas and what are your favourite themes or genres?
Next week, I’ll discuss the key elements of a great Protagonist