The Weirdness of Starting A New Book

by Jeff Abbott on November 1, 2008

No, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month. But I am starting, today, a new novel. Not the writing. The brainstorming.
It’s always a little strange. I have my notebook, a head full of seemingly unrelated ideas, and my laptop. Right now I start sketching out ideas on paper; thinking of characters first. I might use the laptop to do some Googling, just checking facts that relate to these very broad ideas. And when I’ve spent enough time on paper, then I’ll cull through the ideas and put the best ones in Tinderbox, where I keep my evolving book outline.
But it is always hard to start. I have a basic premise in mind, a character, but not much more. It’s interesting to look back and see the evolution of an idea–which words seem to rise to prominence when I’m writing about a character, when does the main conflict of the book become apparent. Sometimes looking back at my notes, my scribblings can seem like an inky trainwreck. Other times I can see exactly when an idea blossomed from stray thought into a real book.
So, an appropriate question for those who like to write: how do you start?

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