Or, more truthfully, how to start MY novel, but who knows, it may work for you.
I actually had trouble starting this novel. It took me awhile to figure out why. And the answer is that even though it’s my fifth novel, I’ve never just started a novel, with the intent to write a novel, absolutely cold with a clear idea of where I wanted to go with it.
Of my previous four novels, The Morning Of The Dragon (a college trunk book that will never see the light of day) started as a short story, as did Across The Endless Ocean. That one actually started life as three short stories, two of which I sold before I figured out where it was going as a novel.
A Calling In Darkness started out as a novel, but I pantsed the first three or four chapters before I had a clue as to where it would end up. Beneath the Verdant Tide was the closest I came to starting a novel with an intentional end, but the vision of that end was (and the ultimate end still is) vague enough that it hasn’t risen to the level of outline.
This novel, which has the inauspicious working title of Project Moon 2099, was commissioned by the publisher, leaving me in the position of actually outlining the whole thing before really starting to write. That gave me a short-term goal, which was useful, but made starting the thing paradoxically harder because this time I could see every bloody mile of the path I was about to start on. And that was surprisingly difficult to start.
Now, why start with an outline in the first place? That, my friends, is a subject for another post.