For all of you doing NaNoWriMo (or simply wanting to start a story), I wrote a piece last year giving my advice on how to prepare for it. This year, while I still agree with what all that I had suggested before, I’ve decided to take that advice and make it even simpler. So, here goes…
Whenever I sit down to write, I do so with a very simple plan of attack: know the first sentence. It might not sound like much, but it’s all I need to get me going. After that, I allow the story to come out however it wants, without any resistance or expectations (everything can be worked on later).
The best example of this would be something that happened to me while I wrote my book, Glory. I had an idea of a woman and her companion walking into a town and running into a preacher. He was going to shout at them, attack them. She was going to try to talk some sense into him.
The first sentence was: Jane and Charles came upon a small town.
While I wrote, I described her journey into the town, including the things she saw and thought. I could feel it all building up to the point in which the preacher was going to come out and meet her.
Then, to my surprise, he never came.
I kept writing and writing, waiting for that particular part to happen. When I realized that it wasn’t going to, I had the woman look over at one of the houses to see what the matter was (Not that she knew there was a problem. It was simply something that I thought might explain things to me. And it did.). Her gaze fell upon a set of eyes staring back at her.
The preacher? No.
A new character who became a major part of my book? Yes.
I won’t get too much more into the details because I don’t want to ruin the story for you (in case you had planned on reading it), but I thought it was a great example of how to start with one sentence and let the story take over. To be honest, it still amazes me the way that it happened. And it has happened like that several times since.
So, while my advice has always been for writers not to put much pressure on themselves, to make it that much easier, you should try only thinking of the first sentence and see where that takes you.
p.s. I should point out that the preacher had never left my mind entirely and may have even managed to get back into the story at a later point. 😉