It is my firm belief that everyone has a story inside of them somewhere inside of them, some people have several. You hear these stories rattling around in your head as you head to work, when you’re in the shower, when your TV hits the adverts.
You think to yourself that one day you will write these brilliant ideas down and make a best seller. Finally, you have decided to start but…. Start where?
That blank sheet of paper in front of you is not as intimidating as you first think. Here are my top tips in Writing A Book: Where To Start.
1 – The Idea(s) You Go Over Most
If you are reading this you hvae probably had some ideas of what you want to write about, you may have even scribbled a few ideas on a napkin. Now is the time to write those ideas down in full, or as full as can be.
Do not worry about all of the details, if you don’t have them yet you may have them later if you have them all now they may change later. Write so you have a basis, this is your baby and you want it to be as true to your original idea as possible because that is the one you have thought about longest, that is your passion, that is the story dying to get out.
Write it down.
Here is a snippet from my first book, one of the first things I had on paper. It’s terrible, but it held some main ideas that made the book.
Argument starts between kaz and the outlaws.
Kaz: “don’t know if you noticed but he picked Emma out of the crowd. Knew who she was too. And if they’ve made Ash an outlaw, they’ll have his pic on the news, Wu’s gonna know who stopped him do you think he’s gonna thank him for that? What about his parents? You know Wu will go after them.”
“What?” Ashley exclaims, “he wouldn’t, would he?”
Scarlet grabs a gun. I’ll take care of them she says to Ash, “We have a friend who can keep them safe, don’t worry about it.” She left quickly.
“I want to go with her,” Ashley said quickly.
Matt intervenes. “Bad idea kid, the police always watch the homes of family, if they see you they’ll arrest you and, under the pretence of handing you to the guys that will escort you to jail, you’d probably get an escort to the Eagles base.” Then he turns to Kaz “Alright Kaz. The Eagles may have scored a point here. But they haven’t won anything from it okay, Calm down a little. Give me a hand getting this stuff in the bike packs.”
It’s bad, it’s rough, it’s raw. It’s not even in the finished book. While the finished book has a similar event at the same point in the book different things have happened, but all these main characters are still there.
Because I knew this argument and this point so well I had something to aim for. I wrote it down early on and began to work on all the events surrounding this piece before finishing this piece.
2 – Plot Holes
No book is a book without a plot. What is a plot?
Officially a plot is “the main events of a play, novel, film, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence.“
But that takes a moment to get your head around so think of it like this. Imagine building a rope bridge.
It starts with one rope reaching from one side to the other (your main plot), then another rope (a relationship plot?) then more ropes and wooden boards to make the bridge strong. (the other parts of a story. Without that first rope, the bridge would fall down. You need the main plot to hold everything together so your characters can get across.
Write down what your plot is, what is your rope to the other side. It needs at least 3 main events. Note: the more events you have the easier this is going to be for you.
Let’s take an example from my first book.
Kaz escapes Eagles and looses memory.
Kaz joins outlaws.
Kaz starts getting memory back.
The School Event.
Kaz gets kidnapped by Eagles once more.
Basic, humble beginnings. The school event is part of the event I included above. Try it with yours.
3 – Character Background
Make sure you know your main players. I mean really know them. I knew Priestley for a long time before I knew his name. Then it was a while after that in the back of my dads’ car that I decided on his first name. Then it was only after my little sis asked some questions that I decided on his upbringing.
This is not the way to go about it. Know your characters.
Every time I changed something with Priestley I had to change something in the book. Damn, I made him American, he wouldn’t be using a six-shooter. Dang, if he killed his dad to save his sis that means he has a sis, where is she in this story?! Knowing your characters from the start can help get your thoughts straight.
If you would like some more tips on character creation check out this 3 part series with worksheets on how to develop an in-depth character.
Note on the Bad guys. If you have a traditional big bad guy be sure that he has a true reason for being a bad guy. someone who wants to take over the world because they want power is weak. Someone who wants to take over the world because they believe it is the only true way to get world peace and prevent wars like the one that killed his entire family is a lot stronger.
4 – Go Over Your Plot in Detail
Earlier you wrote your plot ideas down. You may have only had a few you may have had ten or more. Now you know your players in the game want to flesh those ideas out.
Grab your pad and write those events, but leave gaps so you can fill events in between them. Aim for twenty main events. This may turn into 20 chapters, mine did.
Prologue (I like to always start with a prologue but this is down to personal preference) The escape. – Kaz escapes and loses memory.
Attempted kidnap of Kaz and Kaz meets Priestley – Introduce Wu and Jaggers – Kaz joins Outlaw – Kaz Learns how to fight – Kaz starts getting memory back
Kaz and Jaggers in Shopping Mall – Car Chase – Kaz and Priestley mission with Matt – Sandra gets caught
Introduce Thorsha – Mike gets caught – Docks with Ash and Emma – Eagles recognise Kaz – Hide in School
School event – Work Alone in Base – Thorsha – Dock Fight – Caught
If you wanted to take this further you can write out every event on a separate page, then fill in random little events, conversations and notes underneath.
5 – Set Your Goals
Do not underestimate the power of setting goals. Nor should you underestimate the power of setting prizes for reaching your goals. It may help you to use a goal tracker like this one.
300 words a day is a good goal. 300 words a day every day for a week is a great goal that deserves some cake if completed successfully. Not only will you have written 2100 words that week but you’ll also have cake.
I never set goals for my first 3 books except to finish them before finishing school. They took a long time to write. The outlaws book four however, 3000 words a day was my goal. I blew that out of the water on days where I successfully got into the zone, and forced myself to meet the count on days I struggled. Jamaican Ginger cake with butter was my prize. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
6 – Have A place To Work
Not always possible but can be a big help. You can get into the zone.
This may just be a comfortable corner of the couch with laptop or pad in hand. It may be you have a desk. It may be a coffee shop, a library or a museum. Go somewhere where you can concentrate when you are trying to write if you can.
7 – Decide Where You Want To Start
Some authors say it is best to start a book from Chapter one and work your way forward. Other Authors swear they have never started a book from the beginning in their life.
Write the way you want to write. there is no wrong or right way to do this. Start in the middle with your favourite pieces, start with the climax, or start from the start. This is your choice. What will you find easier?
8 – Write Only Conversation
This is a top writer trick. If you can’t think or concentrate on what you are writing write only the conversations. This moves you forward at a great pace. You can add the other bits later.
This does mean you may have to change loads of conversation down the line, things may change as you add in the world around the conversation but you will have the skeleton of what you are trying to write.
9 – Find A Way To Deal With Your Writers Block Goblin
You may not have met him yet but every writer has one. Little green grey guy who steals your amazing thoughts and ideas and hides them when you sit to write them down. He is a cheeky little thing who needs a kick up the –
There are ways to beat him. Check out this article here on the best ways to deal with his leathery little tush.
10 – Write
Even if you only write one sentence in your book every day you are on your way to completing your book. Write. Go for it. Every word counts, every thought is an inspiration. Get them down, piece them together and bring your story to life.
I Love To Write
I think the best time I ever had when writing a book was when writing book 4 of the Outlaws series. I started out by writing the scenes I knew I wanted in there. My desk was my lap in a gaming chair while watching my human play fallout 4.
But, isn’t that a distraction?
Everybody is different, I work better with background noise in some form or it is simply to quiet. The silence distracts me.
For a couple of weeks, I wrote on a near-daily basis and completed the book. Then 59, 308 words later I set about the editing and publishing work. This was by far the smoothest book writing experience I’d had. Very different from my first book which was written in no particular order and changed so many times I have a folder full of excerpts no longer in the book.
Are you writing a book? Your first? Your fifth? Do you have any more tips you would like to share? Have you found any of these tips particularly useful? Share your thoughts in the comments below.