Choosing an Idea and Narrowing Down My Inspirations for Starting to Write a Book.

If you’re reading this you probably have it too. That notebook with all the ideas.

So, I’m starting to write a book. I have to jump in and make a decision on what I’m doing – we are cruising up to half way through the first month. I’ve been caught up with writing this blog, running the business and being a husband and dad. One of the most difficult balancing acts I’ll be facing up to over this coming year is time management. How am I going to find regular time to write when I’ve barely time now to read? But that is a subject for a different blog.

What comes first is tackling the notebook. It’s one of those large moleskine types that we all love. In lots of ways, it is the distillation of all the other notebooks. Some years ago, I went back through my collection of random notes, half finished things and collected them altogether in this notebook.

Summarised ideas. Quite a few of them became the short stories mentioned in the very first blog:

  • eight completed short stories, ranging from 1,000 words up to 8,000

I’ve been harbouring the idea from the beginning of this writing challenge (as mentioned earlier, when this all started) that I’m moving forward with a particular story. Or actually, three of them pushed together.

Now before we go any further, there’s a disclaimer here. I’m a science fiction writer. This I already know about myself. I love future tech and ideas, but more importantly, how it is grounded and affects contemporary humans and characters. We could be a trillion years ahead in post-human states, but still have relationship miscommunications that would be very familiar. I grew up with this, inherited from my Dad, who showed the kindness to get me reading (and writing) as much as possible. Mostly golden age sci-fi. So that was it.

The three short stories that I’ll be combining are:

  1. Draphur, The Seedcity” which is a short story about an agricultural planet rebelling against the established order.
  2. AltRas” a story about a remotely operated submarine unearthing a drowned city.
  3. Rupille Arrives” which tells the tale of how planets are artificially moved and the effects that has on the populace.

If you’re interested in taking a look at this very first source material, keep an eye out over the next couple of blogs – I’ll be teasing them apart and seeing what fits where in a larger vision.

Will this system work for you if you’re starting to write a book?

I don’t know. Chances are you aren’t in the same position as this – you might have more of a novel idea rather than short stories, or no definite ideas at all, or something else entirely.

I’ve a general direction and idea on what the overarching structure is, but I wanted to share a) some of the inspirations that have led to this and b) some of the key books I’ve used over the years to consider structure and writing in general (I’ll post these up next post and start a Resources tab in the menu of this website).

It’s easier to put a picture in here. I’m a ex-bookseller so ordering is critically important with books – and I neurotically shuffled these around to make sure I didn’t suggest any order 😉 I’ve read a lot of science fiction, but I’ve kept each of these on my writing shelf as a constant reminder of what I want to aim for. Each are important for different reasons, but I’ve gone with a largely more modern mix, rather than sink back on my golden-era haunches.

inspirations for writing a novel

There are countless other books that I’d add here, but this is a good selection and might give you an idea of where this is all heading.

So that’s the fuel in the engine as the whole starting to write a book starts to grind into gear. It’s nice to have them lined up like that. I’m going to take a picture in a year and put my book on top.

It’s Day 11 of 365.

Thanks for reading

– Tom

By | 2018-03-26T15:30:28+00:00 February 11th, 2017|How To Write A Book, Month One, Year One|2 Comments

About the Author:

I'm thirty five this year and for work I run my own small website/digital design business. I have a best friend and luckily she is also my wife. This is all capped off with our three year old daughter, who is the greatest/messiest thing ever. I'm writing One Book One Year to kick my own ass into gear with a long term dream, otherwise I'll never do it.


  1. Will Hughes February 11, 2017 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    I recognise some of those books – but not all! I would add Kurt Vonnegut ( for humour) , Will Self ( language) and the latter’s hero J.G.Ballard ( ideas). They can be a daunting obstacle to anybody hoping to put pen to paper – they probably felt the same way starting out with their heroes!

    • Tom February 15, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      You’re right – the inspiration for writing is a double edged sword. It inspires and makes you full of energy to create, but is invariably wrapped up with a very daunting edge to start from. There has to be a switch off point. You aren’t going to recreate Ballard’s writing on the first go.

      I’m a sucker for Stephen King and I’m in a constant swirl of wow-I-loved that book and oh-crap-how-am-I-going-to-write-that. I’m going to address this properly in the blog soon… and make it a long-running segment because this is an issue that everyone has, no matter what medium you’re in or stage you’re at.

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