Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Where to Begin?

For some time now I have had the germ of an idea niggling away at the back of my mind, waiting to begin building towards a novel. It is something I do feel passionate about, which should help, but how does the inexperienced novelist develop that niggling germ into a full-blown manuscript.

It is not just a question of 'to plot or not to plot', but where is the initial focus of development, character or plot? It is like the chicken and the egg question. Character and plot both develop one another.

It is a question I recently asked on Talkback, the popular forum on the Writers' News website, and the most common response I had from the forum was 'it depends'. That does not sound particularly helpful but the more I have looked into it the more that does seems to be the case. Will the story be plot or character driven? In many cases this is also dependent on the genre.

You may accuse me of sitting on the fence but personally I think it is beneficial to work with them both together to some capacity, focusing on either the plot or the character too much and neglecting the other may mean that you have either a weak plot of unbelievable characters. Beginning at the first hurdle you need some sort of spark of an idea to begin with, there needs to be some focus to work around that can hold it together and from there the plot and character can be built upon.

My plan for the time being is to carry out some research in the area that the novel is focused upon, this will not only fill in some gaps of factual knowledge, but should also assist in where I decide to take my characters and plot. Maybe that is the best place to start after all, before digging into plot and character, carrying out some basic research is possibly the best way to give everything a kick start. It is the method I will be trying for the time being so I will report back on how this develops.

1 comment:

Steven Chapman said...

Completely agree, you can’t have a novel based solely on character OR plot. It has to be a mixture of character driven AND plot driven. I try to focus on the story as a whole, but that might also just be me ignoring the so called ‘conventional’ methods of writing. When you’re starting a new novel it’s all about stretching and expanding that initial flash. I wrote a piece on this for a similar question someone asked on TB a while back:

Good luck with the novel!