11 Questions to answer BEFORE you write the first line
I have been planning my novel for a while now and each time I have gone to start writing the actual text, something has always come up or it hasn’t felt right; something in the storyline hasn’t clicked. Over the course of the last couple months and my new found outlook on life and the things around me, the final pieces to my story have FINALLY settled and I am ready and amped to get stuck into the text.
Before I rush head first into it, I wanted to make sure I was prepared. Through the reading I have done around writing a novel (a very daunting process!) I have come across a collection of questions to ask yourself before you begin writing the first draft. These questions are as follows:
- What are your – Kernel Idea, Intent, Theme
- Why are you writing this novel?
- What do you want readers to walk away with emotionally?
- What tone do I want to achieve in my story?
- I will do whatever it takes to succeed as a writer, except don’t ask me to…
- What do I want to write about?
- What do I want to say about it?
- Why do I want to say it?
- Why should anybody else care?
- What can I do to make them care?
- What do I want readers to think/ see?
The first two times I tried to answer these questions, I couldn’t or my answers were forced. I had to stop at each one and think about an answer. I couldn’t instinctively answer them as soon as I read them, which made me wonder – if I’m going to pour hours of my mind, heart and soul (not to mention life!) into this story, shouldn’t I know it inside out before I even attempt to write it? I would then stop, take a step back and consider each question individually until I discovered what was lacking in the outline/ purpose/ kernel idea of my story that stopped me from answering.
Only until a few weeks ago did I finally feel confident enough to say, yep, I can sit down and answer those questions straight away without pause, without a deep thinking process; so I did! Here are my answers.
- Kernel Idea: A law enforcement officers discovers the true meaning to life, the universe and everything. He does this as he is able to unlock his true self; understanding that he doesn’t have to be what society wants him to be.
Intent: To get people to look at their own lives and understand that they can be themselves, not what the media/ society tells them to be.
- I want to help people escape from their unhappiness, if only for a short while when reading if they don’t want to investigate further. I have used meditation to change my way of thinking, my hope is that this novel will be the catalyst for the readers to do the same.
- I want readers to feel as if they have begun to understand the meaning of true internal happiness and being oneself; leaving behind the feeling like they have to follow the masses.
- I want people to feel amazed and intrigued, so in the beginning, the tone will be something along the lines of mystery and concern at the world; as if something isn’t sitting right, something is off. The reader will always be questioning what is occurring in the story and what it really means. As the truth begins to unfold, the reader will feel enlightened and hungry for more until they are left in awe at the ending.
- At this point, I would not quit my job as I have things I still want to achieve and I need a steady income. Once I am able to support myself as a writer, then I would reassess. The only thing I would never be able to give up would be music.
- I want to describe an abstract view of how life, the universe and everything came to exist and how we can manipulate it to become what we want it to be.
- I want to describe how the vast majority of people are living behind a curtain and not being their true self. I want to get them to see the way I now view the world and beneficial it can be to ‘let go’ and let the curtain fall where it may.
- I want to help other people reach the same place I have in terms of understanding who I am and how much happier I am to have reached this place, but to give them the ability to start now, rather than wait for a reason to search for it.
- It will help them in understanding who they are and perhaps open the eyes of others to the change that positivity and being yourself can make.
- Show the reader a new way of thinking, a new way of being and get them to understand why it is more fulfilling.
- I want the reader to, after reading my novel, to want to investigate more into a different way to view their life and to discuss it with others so that the message spreads. I want them to know and feel that there is a better way to live life and to go out and actively search for and attain it!
There we go; these answers required no thought at all, they just rolled out of my mind, straight onto the page. If you were to answer these questions about your own novel, how easy is it? Try it and see! Perhaps you need to do some more thinking or maybe you are ready!