How I’m Writing a 30-Day Novel – Getting Started

Welcome to the first Saturday post in the Writing a 30-Day Novel series. If you missed the introduction, you can read it here.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I plan to highlight two stories in this series on writing a 30-day novel. The Candidate is my Camp NaNo project and will get the majority of the attention in this series. The other is Carolyne’s Wooden Horse.

About The Candidate

The Candidate  is a political thriller written within the framework of the fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy. It will be full of political machinations, professional risk-taking, and personal struggle.

The idea first took shape back in 2009, just before I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. In the years since, bits of information, germs of ideas, a casual word here or there, and a number of events have collected in the back of my mind (think attic), waiting for just the right moment.

That moment happened one Sunday in June 2014. In the days that followed, I realized I had a story taking shape that wanted to be told and wanted to be told very much.

That story quickly became my Camp NaNo project.

About Carolyne’s Wooden Horse

Carolyne’s Wooden Horse  is about a little girl and a wood horse hand carved by her father. A wood horse that turns into a living, breathing horse.

A horse that talks. At least that’s what the horse is telling me.

It’s so far outside the realm of what I usually write about that I’m not sure whether it’s a fantasy or a fairy tale. Personally, I prefer to think of it as a fairy tale, but what it turns out to be remains to be seen.

So those are the stories I’ll be highlighting as part of this series. Now, you’re no doubt wanting to know how I started.

In The Beginning

Every story begins somewhere. It might be a turn of phrase or a personal experience. It might be something that prompts a what-if question. It might be something as simple as the late afternoon light on a lamp post or as complex as a natural disaster. Something prompts an idea that leads to Story.

When writing from the seat of your pants, you start wherever the idea starts. Don’t fret too much about that because there are a thousand different places to start and part of the delight of writing intuitively is just getting started and seeing where the story takes you.

The Candidate  began with a character and one particular event in her everyday, ho-hum life. An event that I could see would change her life forever. That’s all I knew.

I didn’t know her name.

I didn’t know where she lived or what she did for a living.

I wasn’t even sure how old she was or her family situation. All I had were two pieces of information. She existed and she experienced something.

Carolyne’s Wooden Horse, on the other hand, began with a scene. I don’t know what prompted it or where the idea came from beyond a gift of the Holy Spirit, but I sat down on a warm Sunday in May and began writing. By the time I finished, I’d written over 2,000 words and Carolyne had a family, a place to live, a history, personal belongings and longings, and a wooden horse.

She also started out on an adventure. I don’t know any more about that adventure than Carolyne does and that, as I mentioned a paragraph or two ago, is part of the delight of this method of writing.

The Most Important Thing

I’ll leave you today with the most important thing to know about writing by the seat of your pants: Just get started.

The most important word in any story is the first one.

The most important step in any writing project is the first one.

Just getting started can be the most difficult task facing any writer. So wherever your story starts, start there. Even if it’s the last scene, sit down and start writing.

This is important, so let me repeat.








I hope you’ve taken a little encouragement about writing your novel by the seat of your pants, whether it turns out to be a 30-day novel or not. Don’t punish yourself too much if it doesn’t. 30-day novels are special creations and often take on a life of their own.

But there is hope. You can start today with your own new novel, even if all you do is write one scene, one paragraph, or one line. Remember, the most difficult part of any new journey is the first step. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to take that step.

It’s not mandatory, but I’d like to hear how it goes.

Next week, I’ll tell you how I got started with The Candidate and what my plans are for Camp NaNo. I hope you’ll join me.

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