So your New Year's resolution is to write a novel
— where do you start? Well, you can try starting at the beginning, but if that doesn't work, how about the middle, or even the end? The starting point for a novel is very rarely the first paragraph. Sometimes it's a visual image, sometimes it's a character or a story — I love staring at strangers in the street and trying to work out their stories. Ursula Le Guin
once said that she created the whole strange hermaphrodite world of The Left Hand of Darkness
because she wanted to use the line "The king is pregnant." The novel I am working on at the moment had a common starting point for me: fear. (Fear and passion and yearning are often where stories lie.) I heard a horrible story from a friend about an acquaintance whose child had been killed in a road accident, and I started to think about my own children having an accident, and I couldn't get my fears for them out of my head — so the only thing to do was to write a novel about it. My current book opens with the police coming to a woman's door to tell her her child has been killed, and her subsequent unraveling. Like many novels, it begins with "what if..." That's always a very good place to start.