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A Character In a Place With a Problem

Today’s episode of The Everyday Novelist is about getting started, titled appropriately enough “Here’s Where You Start”. The first time I listened to these episodes I looked at Dan’s answer a bit askew.

He said the way to start was not outlines or character sketches or anything like that.

Just sit down and describe a character in a setting wrestling with a problem.

I now suspect I know where he got that idea, from Dean Wesley Smith. It’s the core of six weeks from what Smith says is the requirement class for all of his and Kristine Kathryn Rusch other writing classes, Depth in Writing.

As an aside, taking the course gave me more confidence in writing than any other single thing I could control. The only thing that competes was M. C. A. Hogarth giving me some pointers when I was desperate for anyone making money writing to do so.

That is why within twenty-five minutes of starting with nothing more than a vague “can I write a Heinlein juvenile style novel” question I had Ms. Monica Sampson looking out a window at an easement for power lines that ran next to her home as she thought about leaving the only planet she’d known for school.

I have a character, Monica, in a setting, her home looking at an old and meaningful site (yes, the easement is the one out my office window that I started posting pictures of back a few months) reflecting on leaving it for two years to a place she’s never seen with no one she knows (or maybe someone…I’m not that far yet).

For those playing the home game, Monica is the first name of the author on a book on my writing desk shelf and Sampson is the manufacturer of my studio monitors (audio, not video) whose back faces towards my writing desk.

School and another planet were enough to create a right now problem to start a juvenile.

This is where you start, by taking the raw material around you and creating a character in a place with a problem.

Header Image by on Freepik

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