With that thought from a great coach, let’s start thinking about learning to write your great book from the first baby-steps.
First, to think about becoming a writer you MUST be a reader. Read, read, read anything you can get your hands on, especially the genre you want to write. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write! Lots of people say, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel.” We call these folk wannabes—don’t be a wannabe. Any writing project is a daunting prospect, freezing some people up just thinking about it. Some folks wait, and wait, for inspiration. Okay, I’ll admit it—even experienced writers can find it easier to do anything else than actually writing. So turn off the TV, your smart phone, your I-pad, your X-games, and anything that distracts you by buzzing, ringing or flashing.
Okay, now you may assume the position: Sitting and staring at your keyboard. Your first task is to decide on a story. Or at least the germ of an idea for a story. Let your mind go loose, ask yourself, “What if (that thing happened to that person)?” or absolutely anything that crosses your mind. Grab the thought and get it on screen. Complete sentences don’t count—yet. When you write a story, you are telling yourself the story. And you will tell it through the eyes of your characters. You will give your characters some dialog—and then listen to where they take you (more on that in future).
Let’s take a step back. When you get your story idea, think about your characters. Keep the number down to two or three (not more than five with names). Choose your protagonist (hero) and your antagonist (villain), give them names and descriptions. Here’s the tediously, devilish hard part now: write everything you know or imagine about each character. Where did they grow up? What do they like/dislike to eat? Bad habits? Parents? Physical characteristics? Love life? Everything. You will not use ninety percent of what you wrote—but when you give the character action and dialog it will reflect what YOU know about them and thus they will become an individual personality on the page.
Stephen King, the great author of contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, and suspense, says, “The magic is in you. I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. Don’t worry about making other people happy. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
Let me know what you plan to write about. Maybe you’ve already begun. I’d love to hear what that is. There are a ton of “rules,” “do’s and don’ts,” cautions and guidelines out there. But for now don’t give them a thought or worry—dive in and write, one word at a time. Whether it’s a love note or an epic like War and Peace, it’s written one word at a time.
I’ll follow some sort of sequence of suggestions in future blogs, but if a question is burning you, please ask. Somewhere out there lies an answer waiting for your inquiring mind.