Novel beginnings are scary. There is the unknown. Yes, I’ve written other (yet unpublished) novels, but starting something altogether new is difficult. There is a fear and wondering if I can even do it again. Normally I know where my novel is headed when I begin, but this time I don’t. That’s why I was excited to recently attend a retreat for beginning a novel called: From Premise to Plot.
I spent the weekend in a suite at the historic Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia. I can’t believe that I didn’t take pictures of the fireplace, the gigantic bed, and the jacuzzi tub, but I was too busy enjoying them all.
A writer friend of mine from Hollins, Valerie Patterson, organized it all. A professor of mine from Hollins, Candice Ransom, lead the workshop. Candice spent the weekend guiding us through the beginnings of a novel. Not the beginning words for the first chapter, for those are a long ways away. But the beginning idea. And where that idea leads you to create the place, the characters, and the plot come alive in the mind of the reader.
We mapped, drew, labeled, wrote, and brainstormed with a variety of techniques. I have more than just an idea in my head now. But I’m a long ways from a draft.
There was a lot of reading and writing by the fireplace, talking with other writers, and there was lots and lots of eating. Lots and lots of eating. Since I spend a lot of my time at home preparing meals for my family, it was nice to have three meals a day provided. I took advantage and indulged.
I must confess. I ate four desserts in 2 1/2 days. Sugar and book brainstorming go well together.
Now that I’m back home, I still have a lot of groundwork to set up before writing the draft. But I have a little binder with ideas and maps ready to birth a novel.