Construction of a Novel: First Pages

So, I’ve been debating a new series of blog posts for a while. I’m still not completely convinced by this idea, but I’m going to go ahead with it for now and see where it takes me. If I feel it’s not working I can always ditch the notion after a few posts, right?

I’ve been on the verge of starting a new novel for some time, and it occurred to me that I could blog about its various stages along the way, from start to eventual finish. Embarking on a novel is very different from embarking on a shorter work. You know you’re facing a long, convoluted path, and no matter how prepared you are, you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Not really. Even the most meticulously planned novel evolves along the way. It’s part of what I enjoy about the process. (Or at least, I’ve enjoyed it the last two – and only – times I’ve done it.) So I thought it might be interesting to document that evolution, at least in vague writing terms. This is the start of that documentation… so I guess we’ll see where it goes.

I now have 842 words of a brand new novel. I wrote the first 341 words a few months ago. I wasn’t ready to start the thing properly then, but the first line worked its way onto the screen and the next few introductory paragraphs followed. Then I put it aside to continue focusing on short stories. The idea for this novel has been burgeoning for a long time now. I’ve wanted to write certain elements of it for years, and the rest began to come together in my mind earlier this year. I have a few pages of scrawled notes in my trusty little black notebook, images of the characters in my mind, and most of their names. That’s about it.

I’ve just written the next 501 words. (I promise not to give a continuing rundown of precise word counts in these posts… it just feels kind of appropriate right now, at the very start of this thing. 842 words means it’s really happening.) The scene in question has suddenly made these characters real. It’s left me with this feeling of amazing warmth towards them. Like my previous novel characters, I’ve known these guys forever, somehow, and it’s like I finally got them onto the page and said “Wow! There you are!”

I have mixed feelings, as always when starting a new piece of writing, especially a longer work. It’s all sweet and comforting at the beginning, and I have a sense of mild guilt at the fact that I’ll be taking these characters to some very dark places. There’s huge anticipation of the writing ahead of me. I’m excited and nervous and feeling slightly daunted. I’m anxious about being able to pull this story off, but really happy that I’m finally starting to tell it. I’ve set myself up for some complex situations and politics, and I’m hoping I can handle them and create something riveting and meaningful in the process.

So… here’s to beginnings. I’m off to see where the words take me.

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