When you’re up against a blank wall, one of the hardest things is coming up with an idea for your novels. I know I’ve struggled on more than one occasion to find ideas for my novel, and it’s one of the reasons why writing my first book took over five years to complete. Here are five questions you can answer about your novel to find ideas and get a plot outline going.
Who is my main character?
This is perhaps the most important question of any book. Who is the most important character in the book? What story are they telling? In my current book I’m working on, the main character is the man who will overthrow the rebellion.
I try to answer these questions about my main character before I begin writing:
Who is my main character? What is their name, what is their family, what is their background?
What is my main character’s goal? Does he want money, fame, to escape his current situation? What will motivate them to achieve that goal?
What will my main character’s conflict be? What will the main source of conflict be? What will the secondary source of conflict be?
What will get in the way of my main character’s goal?
What in my book’s setting?
Another way to brainstorm is to find out what your books’ setting is, and to find those ideas and use them. I ask myself these questions before beginning any of my novels:
Where is the book set? In my current novel, the book is set in one building, as the entire world is in one building.
What time or year is my book set in?
What is the temperature and the weather like?
What’s the character’s current relationship with where the book is set? Are they free to leave at anytime? Can they travel? What restrictions do they have?
Once you have answers to these, these can give you ideas for scenes in the book.
Ask yourself, “What could go wrong?”
This is my favorite question to ask and is one of the best ways to create plot twists. It’s a great way to start asking yourself questions. I love taking my current scene, looking at it, and asking myself “What could go wrong?”
My favorite example of this when my character was attempting to runaway from a cult that had abducted him. After asking what could go wrong in the scene, I realized that the person he was running away with wasn’t a rebel, but was a member of the cult and someone who was willing to turn him in.
There are numerous things you can do to make even the simplest scenes go wrong. Asking what can go wrong is a great way to not only add words on a page, but inspire a scene that you’ve never thought of before. It can even alter the course of your entire book.
What’s Your Character’s End Goal?
This is the most important question to ask yourself about your book. What’s your main character’s end goal? What does he want? What is he striving for the entire book? How can you make it so he doesn’t reach his goal?
Find whatever your main character’s end goal is - and then block them from meeting it. It can be as simple as your main character getting detention, or as complex as your character boarding the wrong flight and ending up in a different country.
There are multiple ways where you can find inspiration for your latest novel. Simply asking what can go wrong in a specific scenario is perhaps the best way to get an adventure going for your main character.
Don’t be afraid to take chances and make mistakes. Just because you write a scene doesn’t mean that you have to use it in a novel. Be willing to ask yourself questions, try new things, and explore.