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From Concept to Shelves: First Steps

From Concept to Shelves:  First Steps

It's fairly obvious by now that for a writer to stay in business she needs to keep writing.  In that spirit I decided to do something a little different.  You are about to follow the entire process -- from concept and research of a new novel to the final realization of seeing it on shelves.

This is the first post in this series and it's about (no surprise here) about coming up with a concept, a basic idea, of what the novel is likely going to be about before we get into the research.

This is part of the Planning Stages; that initial first plunge into the unknown before we start drafting.  For most writers this is also the longest and it's both frustrating and exciting.  Why is it frustrating?  Well, think of it this way -- you're not sure what exactly you're looking at.  It's the blank page... actually, no... it's worse.

With a blank page at least you have an idea of what it is you want to write.

Here... you have no idea.  You need to think of that idea and seed before you can move onto anything else.  This can take years, or it can be in a flash of inspiration and you just need to start now.

Normally it's a mix of both.

Moving forward we'll assume the idea has already been dreamt up.  In this case I refer to the first part already being done which means I already generally know what the novel plot will likely consist of as well as the genre, and perhaps even a few of the major players in it.

Nothing really specific -- the novel is still an amorphic concept with no real form, plot, or even definitive characters or settings.  It's just a very general idea and I still have to fill in the specifics through research and planning the definite plot... and yet more research to make sure what I have in mind actually fits.

But how does a writer get to even this part?

Well, that's the tricky part.  There really is no real hard and fast rule for finding something original -- or original enough for a writer to put their own unique spin on an old idea -- to create something at even this embryonic concept stage.  The world around us teems with ideas but the magic in writing lays in plucking something out that ether and making something else... something finished and ready to publish in the end.

I do this by going out and living a life as full as I can.  I meet people and I talk to them.  I work another job outside of my writing in order to have something to pull me out into the world.  I also do this by reading and researching with no real aim in mind -- just learning for the joy of finding something new to experience.

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