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I’m about to start work on a new book (a synopsis to come next week), and it’s going to be… interesting. There are no rules to starting a new book, because it varies from person to person and project to project. This book, however, is following its own set of rules, and some of them are helpful.

1. Make the title fun. A book doesn’t really need a title until way late in the process. I got lucky and I’ve got a great one that really captures the book so it’ll probably last, but at this stage it’s just important to have something that’s vivid enough that I can find it every day when I open up the file to work on it. Book #10 works, but when I go to find it a year from now I’ll just be like ????? Anything I’m spending more than an hour working on deserves a name I can identify later.

2. Don’t start with too many character notes. I’m starting from a world I’ve already explored, as it were, so I can’t avoid having a certain amount of information already (and it’s even helpful), but I’ve had to hold myself back from adding too much about the characters before I start writing. They’ll change and shift through the book. Anything I put down as law should be only the essentials.

3. Have a synopsis ready. When you mention “I’m starting a new book soon” people always ask “What’s it about?” Having a short answer prepared saves them and you from rambling around trying to pick up the thread of the story that could turn out vastly different in a month. Be nice. Save their time with something short.

4. If planning out the first few chapters doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Forcing it makes everyone unhappy. Leave it alone until those first few pages are done, and if necessary just wing the whole thing.