The first step to writing a novel is an interesting thing, and I have a feeling that everyone’s step is going to be a little bit different.
I usually start by making a mess. What the mess looks like depends a great deal on whether I have my computer in front of me, or I’m working on paper (I have the most godawful-atrocious handwriting—you have no idea).
When I first start to develop a concept for a novel, I like to work out the broad points using the “cloud” or “cluster” method of brainstorming, except halfway through, I usually start forgetting to cluster, so it begins to look like lists of questions and directives, which often have a certain accusatory quality.
Everything I can think of that might be a story-concern goes into the cluster. As I move into the later phases of developing a plot, I usually find that I’ve missed a lot of things, and that plenty of what I had in my first cluster just isn’t relevant and needs to be stripped away. However, that’s a refining step, and so, has no place here.
Here are several examples of preliminary work from a novel I wrote about demons. Also, a sample of hieratic for visual comparison.
So, tell me, how do you like to (have to) start