If you’re like me, you have a ton of fiction novels laying around. You probably have some you liked, some you didn’t like and some you’ve read multiple times. You may also have more than a few collecting dust. The good news is that you can use those novels to jumpstart your own novel. All you have to do is pick one in your preferred genre and open it.

Get Your Novel Started with a Novel

For most writers, the biggest challenge of writing a novel is getting started, and it doesn't matter if you’ve never written a novel or if you’ve written dozens of novels. A blank page is still intimidating even if you have an idea. You have a basic idea of the flow of the novel, and you know the setting and the name of the main character. All those ideas and thoughts are fresh in your head and you are ready to slam out thousands of words, until you open your word processor. The minute you see that blank page, all your brilliant ideas just disappear just like last night’s ice cream. Having a novel on hand can help you get rid of that blank page and alleviate your anxiety over starting a new piece of fiction.


Retrieve Your Novel

If you’re suffering from blank page syndrome, go get your preferred novel. It can be any novel. The first one you lay your hands on is fine. When I walked over to my bookshelf, the first thing I saw was Laurel K. Hamilton’s A Kiss of Shadows. I don’t how I got this book. I’ve never read it, and now that I’ve opened it, I see it’s written in first person. Well, that’s why I never read it. I hate fiction written in first person. That was a fail. Let me go grab another one. It helps to choose a book that’s written in the style you prefer to write. Mine is third person. The next thing on my shelf is Lee Child’s The Hard Way. This works for me. It’s a Jack Reacher Novel, and I know that because it says that on the cover.

Get Rid of That Blank Page

Now, you want to open your fiction book and write down the first paragraph at a minimum. I doubt that I have to tell you that if you leave that paragraph in your book upon publication, it’s plagiarism, so at some point, you are going to need to delete it and either start with your second paragraph or write a new intro paragraph. If you wrote down more than a paragraph, you’ll need to delete all of it before you publish or send your new novel out to agents and editors.

In the intro paragraph of The Hard Way, Jack Reacher is sitting at a table in a coffee shop, and he watches a man get into a car. It ends with “But that was enough.”

The Ideas Will Start to Form

As you copy the intro paragraph of whichever novel you chose, ideas will start to form in your head, and soon you’ll find yourself on a writing roll. Just keep plugging in those words.

I’m going to continue on from “But that was enough.” And I’m going to use characters that I’m very familiar with. You’re probably familiar with them as well – Shadow Conn and Jacques LeSombre. There’s no rule saying that you can’t start a new novel with a previous set of characters. Just, when you get the end Find/Replace OldCharName with NewCharName.

Shadow looked around the decrepit coffee shop. It was after midnight. She’d been waiting for Jaq for two hours, and she was angry and starving. There was nothing in this shop she could eat. The last customer left 20 minutes ago, and the only other person in the shop with her was the barista. Shadow wasn’t about to drain the barista. They’re blood was usually bitter due to the fact that they drank copious amounts of coffee for their entire shift. 

She stood from the table and her untouched caramel latte coffee. Next time she agreed to meet somewhere, she was going to insist on a bar. They serve bourbon, and there were plenty of delicious patrons. After dropping two dollars on the table, Shadow walked out the coffee shop door. The sidewalks and streets were just as empty as the damned coffee shop. There was no Jaq that she could see, not even in the shadows, and she didn’t see his big black Cadillac anywhere. The vampire was late, and Shadow was leaving.

Shadow crossed the street to her large black sedan. She wasn’t even sure of the make or model, just that her driver was in the front seat ready to take her to her next destination...

Enjoy Your Progress

With just an intro paragraph set in a coffee shop and the word “enough”, I was able to write 200 words fairly quickly. Now, during the course of the conversion from the original text to my expansion, my mind focused on the word ‘Enough’, and it translated the meaning from ‘That’s all the character needed to see’ to ‘This character is fed up and has had enough of this situation.’ You’ll more than likely find your own mind doing the same thing. It will interpret the brief paragraph or page into something else, and you’ll find that the words will begin to flow. 

You’ll also start to notice subplots forming, even if you’ve done no previous plotting. For the above text, we have a missing vampire. We have an angry vampire, and we know that she’s going somewhere else, probably a bar to get a glass of bourbon and find a meal. We also have two potential big plots. Plot 1 is finding the missing vampire. Plot 2 would be that Jaq was simply lying low for X reason, and he finds Shadow at the bar, probably in the back alley while she’s eating and explains his situation and that leads to other suspenseful situations and keeps the flow of the book going.

You will start to notice these things in your own new work of fiction, and soon, you’ll have your first chapter finished and thoughts of the blank page will soon fade away as you dive deeper and deeper into the world and characters you are creating.

Read More on Drafting Your Novel


  1. The Minimalist’s Way to Start a First Draft ...
  2.  Best Approaches to Start a Second Draft ...
  3. Writing the Third Draft of a Fiction Novel ...
  4. How to Write the Fourth Draft of a Fiction Novel ...
  5. How to Write the Fifth and Final Draft of a Novel ...
  6. How Many Drafts Should You Put on a Fiction Novel? ...



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