Starting a New Manuscript by Diane GastonI'm continuing with my September theme of New Starts (See my blog of Sept 7). I think September is a perfect time to start a new manuscript, like starting school.
I don't have any consistent way of starting a manuscript. Sometimes I start with a story idea; sometimes, a character; sometimes, just an initial situation.
The Mysterious Miss M, my first book, started with a desire to sell a book. I was entering lots of romance writing contests at the time. Most contests are judged on a first chapter so I decided I needed a first chapter with a big WOW factor. What could be a better WOW factor than starting with a sex scene? From that idea the characters came to mind and then the story.
Other books started with a character. Both A Reputable Rake and The Vanishing Viscountess began because the heroes in those books were secondary characters in earlier books and they simply would not stop trying to take over the book. I had to promise them books of their own.
This time I set up a trilogy involving three soldiers. The original idea grew from watching The Lives of a Bengal Lancer but all I took from that was the idea of three soldiers who all experience the same traumatic event that affects each of their lives from then on. I'm working on the third book so I had the hero and heroine who appear in the first book, only I didn't really know much about them. (shown is Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, the first book in the trilogy, to be released Dec 2009)
Before I was published I started a book with whatever idea or character that gave me a beginning. I was the classic seat-of-the-pants writer and I liked discovering the story as I went along. Now that I'm published, though, I have to write a proposal. So to start a book, I have to have enough of the story to create a synopsis. No more "pantsing."
Do you start a book with a situation, a character, or something else? Do you plot out the story before writing, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
If you like a story, what captures your attention the most-the characters? the plot? or something else?