HOW to start a book

by Oliver
(Clarksville, TN)

Question: I have this genius idea to write a book about the topic that, in the book, breaks our country and starts the 2nd Civil War: LGBTQ+ Rights. I got this amazing idea and i don't know where to start, what out-of-the-box format I want to do, and my characters are all vague.

Answer: Sounds like you have a lot of development work to do before you're ready to write. This would include...

1. Research. You should make sure you are familiar with the perspectives on all sides of this issue. This will also give you ideas for characters, since different characters could embody different perspectives.

At the same time, you may want to research setting. For instance, is there a place/town at the centre of this conflict that would make a good setting? Or will you invent a fictional town at the centre? Perhaps some reading will give you ideas.

2. Story development. You should create at least a brief outline from the Initial Driver (the event that triggers the story) to the Final Driver (the event that decisively ends it). You may use any of the story models on this site as guides...

3. Character Development. Who will people your world? You want a main character who is in a good position to resolve the crisis one way or the other, possibly because their perspective is unique. They should be someone whose perspective the reader will be interested in. Someone who is challenged by the events to figure out what the right course of action is. Then you will need to fill out the rest of people in that character's world who will play a role in the drama.

Some writers prefer to do characters first and outline. It's up to you. They're both important.

Of course, if you are a pantser by nature, you find one key event comes to mind right away. You may want to just sit down and write that and then figure out after who the people in it are, what happened before, and what will happen after--why it happened, and how it changes everything.

As you can see, there are plenty of different places to start. You want to find the one that feels right for your style and your story. I suggest you start with the approach that seems easy and switch if/when you get stuck.

Best of luck.

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