Last night, at the monthly writing group I attend, we discussed the opening page of a book and how to start novels. We looked at different examples of first pages of published novels, how they set the mood of the book instantly and introduce the central character effortlessly.
We talked about how all the opening pages of the books centered around one single idea and, from there, extrapolated it out into the first chapter, the early scenes, the whole book.
With the first draft of the second book in The Darkest Hand trilogy (The Fallen) now written (finished last night after ten long long months), I've found myself sitting in front of a blank piece of paper which I've turned into a completed novel three times. (Yes, there is another book I've written that's nothing to do with The Damned or The Fallen - watch this space). It's an exciting and intimidating place to be, thinking about where the book is going to take you, how it's going to take you there and whether you will get there at all.
Having that unique nugget of an idea which tightens the guts and quickens the pulse is, of course, essential to conjure a fantastic story from inside of you, but it wont write the book for you. To do that you need belief in the idea, determination and faith in your own abilities.
And you also need to leap.
Leaping into a book, setting your finger to the key or the nib of your pen to the paper, and writing is not easy. It's an action poisoned with self-doubt and pessimism. 'Will it be any good?' 'Can I write it?' 'Can I write?!' 'Who will read it?' 'Will I ever finish it?' 'What's on TV at the moment?'
In my experience a brilliant idea is all very well, a natural feeling of joy when you write essential, but a carefree ballsy attitude that you're just going to get on and write the damned thing and to hell with what the first draft is like is the most important thing.
Procrastination is the number one killer of books. Silence the doubts, opening up your pads and just let the words flow out of you, regardless of what they're like. You can go back and tidy them up later.
I read a brilliant quote once. "Write your first draft like no one will read it. Write your last draft like the world will read it."
As my agent has said to me several times during the writing of The Fallen, 'just write the damned thing!'