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Finish Your Novel at the Beginning: 3 Keys to a Good Start.

What’s the first two words I write at the start of every novel?  The End.

At least, I write them in my head. Like most authors, I see the finished story in my head long before I start typing the opening chapter or putting down key scenes. So every beginning has a taste of the sweet feeling of success I will have when I get to the end. Unfortunately, knowing the itinerary is not the same as taking the trip. You’re going to need more at the start to propel you forward through 80,000 – 100,000 words.  If you want to get to the end – here are three keys to giving yourself a great beginning.

Know Where You Are Going

Trips are always easier to take when you have an idea of where you are going to end up. It helps you pack, gives you a picture in your head of what your trip will look like, and allows you to make plans for when you get there.  A business trip to China or a vacation to Hawaii are different. No matter how romantic it sounds to show up at the airport and just take the next plane – that’s not a good way to travel.


Novels are the same way. You have to know what you want from the book and where you want it to go. Is it just an entertaining story, like a mystery or romance, or does it have a meaning or say something you’ve always longed to say?  Writing a novel about six characters and a missing diamond ring is going to be much more difficult if you don’t know if it’s a romantic comedy, murder mystery, treatise on materialism, or journey story.  Don’t just know your hero or your plot. Know where you want the story to go.

Know Why You Are Going

A big part of finishing anything is motivation, and nothing is more motivating than having a reason for doing things.  It won’t feel this way when you get started, but trust me – halfway through your novel, when you are in the marshland middle section you are going to ask repeatedly, “Why am I doing this?”

Why are your writing a novel in the first place? Is writing your passion, and the novel sort of like the “Boston marathon” of your devotion? Are you wanting to make a living as a writer? Is your story just too big for a short story?  Is this something you feel like you need to say and the novel is the way to say it?

The “why” doesn’t matter – what matters is that you understand it, and use that motivator to get you through the rough sentences, middle-marsh, gory re-writes and days you just don’t want to sit down.

Get Someone to Travel with You

Writing can be a lonely life. As fun as a “write-in” may be, you’re going to spend the majority of your time in a room by yourself concentrating on the world you created. That doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.  Get support along the way.  Fill websites to educate and encourage you, surround yourself with people who support you, and honest friends who remind you that “Butt-in-chair” is the method that works best.


Truth is – no one can write for you.  But, gathering mentors, friends and cheerleaders makes the writing you do a lot more fun.

Using these keys will open the doors to starting your novel journey and get you to that magical island known as “the end.”