One of the hardest things about writing a novel is to come up with an idea that is big enough to carry the novel. In order to that, you have to make everything – every single component of your story – bigger.
The central conflict is the first place to tackle this. Think about the engine of conflict that is going to drive your story. In a mystery, it will be a crime. In a romance, it’ll be the relationship between your hero and heroine. Your conflict has to be big enough to power your entire story, big enough to power the engine of your plot, big enough to keep your characters engaged and engaging.
Let’s think about the first thing I mentioned – the crime in a mystery. Your crime has to be as big as your writing space. A small crime, such as the stealing of a candy bar, would be enough for a short story, but it’s not enough to power an entire novel. A much better crime would be a murder or a grand heist (think Ocean’s Eleven or the Italian Job). This holds true with romance also. Whatever the conflict is that keeps your characters apart has to be more than simply she just got out of a bad relationship. Consider the way the conflict is heightened when you give your heroine a child with a deadbeat dad – suddenly every potential boyfriend has to live up to the perfect father image that she has in mind for her son.
Now, a word of warning – writing about a big idea is scary and intimidating as all get out. You may worry that it’s more than you can handle. But don’t. It’s not. You can do this – by dealing with the story one step at a time, by taking the time to craft detailed character sketches, by immersing yourself in the setting, by outlining / plotting your story.
Here’s the good news about a big idea – it is the engine that will power you through until you write THE END. Your job is to get out of the way and let your characters tell you what is happening, so that you can write their story.
If you’re ready to get out of your own way and tackle that blank page, join my introductory class, Blank to 50K, and go from a blank page to a complete first draft of a novel. You can do it, and I’m here to help.