6. Start with your characters.Where do you start inventing? With your characters. Whether your initial idea is a movie-worthy elevator pitch or a wisp of creative film, you start at the same place, by figuring out who the people are who are going to try to kidnap the president or repair their relationship. Begin with their names. Then move on, one by one, to their hair color, and what they eat for breakfast, and who they call when they wake up scared at 3 a.m, and what they’re scared about. Keep going until you’re not sure whether you made them up or knew them in college. Until your fiction is realer than reality.
7. Know your title.This is a tip stolen from Elmore Leonard: Before you begin, think of a perfect title. A title that not only makes you want to write the book to go with it, but that you can see on the book jacket, that you can imagine will make millions of people want to read it.
8. Know your ending. You may not have to have every detail of your plot worked out before you start writing, but you need to know where your characters are heading and where they’re going to end up. Otherwise, it’s like taking off on a road trip without having any idea whether you’re aiming for California or Florida. You’ll end up driving around in circles.
Is that all there is to writing a novel? Well, no. But it’s a good start. For further tips, read Elizabeth George’s Write Away. Take a class. Join a writing group, but don’t give them too much power.
But mostly, step away from the washing machine, sit in front of your computer, and start by imagining you’re in a cottage, maybe by the sea.