My first novel

I’m 19 but I’ve been writing short stories, memoirs, poetry, professional documents, letters, etc. since I can remember. Everyone always tells me I should write a book or something. I love writing and people love reading what I write. So, I decided to write a fiction novel. Only one problem. I’ve never done this before and I have almost no ideas to put into the book.

My question is this: do you have to start with an idea, a plot, a character idea, or anything like that for a novel to be good? Or can you start from scratch, developing plot, characters, locations, etc. as you go?

Either way works for some people. It’s impossible to tell what approach the author used based on the end result.

Many people advise new novelists to do lots of planning, as a cure for the problem of getting stuck 30 pages in. But in my experience, some people are natural planners and some people aren’t, and trying to go against your natural style is a recipe for frustration.

On the other hand, if you don’t have some kind of idea, why are you writing a novel in the first place? If I were going to commit a year or more of my life to a project, I’d want to have a better reason than “everyone tells me I should.” A novel uses a much bigger canvas than a short story, so I’d want some assurance that I had a way to fill that much space.


Thanks! I naturally just write things from scratch and am generally pleased with the end results. I expect to have several drafts of my novel, though, unlike my other writings which I generally publish and present without editing (besides spellcheck :wink: ).

As for having some idea, I do have a bunch that have been floating through my head for quite some time. I’ve just never taken the plunge into large-scale writing endeavors. I’m very eager to do so! The “you should…” comments just encouraged my desire. I have lots of ideas, but no set plot. I guess I should sit down and brainstorm at least a basic plot and make some characters, scenes, and a timeframe. I’ll do that now :wink:

Thanks again!