Where does a novel come from? It’s the telling of a story, the purpose of which may be one of any number of divergent motivations. It may be to entertain, or to titillate, or a purely commercial endeavor. At its best I think can be something much more than any of this.
A bubble of an idea forms in the inner recesses of the mind, at least for myself, and it develops into more of a blister as scenes and themes shape themselves, building one after another until a storyline forms. It eventually becomes a project that needs to be dealt with, and morphs into one’s methodology of writing. First a one sentence synopsis, then one of a paragraph, then one of a full page. By the time that the several pages of the detailed synopsis are formed, the outline can start, scene by scene. Once enough of a story is there (more than a hundred scenes in my case) the first draft can begin. But what begins all of this?
It starts with having something to say. Some writers insist that they separate their writing from the world—J.R.R. Tolkien was an example—but in reading we find that Professor Tolkien actually had quite a lot to say about the world. He couched his main theme (which I feel is that character and faith are inseparable virtues) in the storytelling of Middle Earth, and the result is inclusion most listings of the preeminent works of the twentieth century.
Writing as a commercial venture is a legitimate objective, but it keeps writing on the surface of what it can be, as does any endeavor without a substantive base motivation. It will never be as deep or as enticing as a story told by someone who deeply, sincerely wishes to make a heartfelt statement. Good writing does that, and when it happens it is the result of a passion; one of language, words, and ideas. It is the wish to make a direct connection to another soul through another mind.
Have something to say, and then start down the road toward everything else that your writing will become. The people who did this are the ones whose body of work can and will never be forgotten.
Choose to Love, -DA