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Novel foundations

Start solidly, or your story will collapse later, says author and lecturer James McCreet, revealing the planning process of his current novel-in-progress

I’ve just started a novel, by which I mean I have written nothing. For me, the start of a novel is the idea. What follows is a process that allows me to either reject the idea or write a complete and effective novel. I’m not going to tell you my idea (because it’s really good!) but I thought it might be interesting to reveal what comes before the writing.

All of the following elements are necessary for a workable novel. It doesn’t matter in which order you gather them – it’s usually a case of simultaneous accretion – but you do need to feel that each one has been addressed. Without them, the novel is likely to fail. I keep an exercise book with the following headings and add to them whenever I think of a new idea. In time, the exercise book fills and there’s enough material to start.

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WIN! A book deal AND a 5-day trip to Iceland Writers Retreat in our exclusive competitions Start write: How to get started, enjoy new styles and create a solid foundation for your novel Learn from the best: Shotr stories, romantic fiction and reportage Star interview with £1m-a-year self publisher Adam Croft News you can use: 20 packed pages of opportunities, competitions and insider know-how in Writer's News

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