Thursday, April 13, 2017

5 Tips for Beginning Writers

As someone who has been writing novels, short stories and non-fiction for years, I am often asked how to get started or what it takes to write a book. I wish there was an easy answer. Unfortunately the answer is to write, write, and write some more. And then keep writing. But where do you start? Actually the answer to that is to you can start with your story in a variety of different ways. Here are five different things you can do to start working on your story.

1. Start with a simple idea.  This is often where beginners start. They want to write a book about their uncle who was a cowboy, or they have an idea that revolves around an event. But you need more than idea, you will need to think about where you're going with that idea. What will happen to that cowboy or what happens at that summer picnic that is interesting?

2. Come up with characters. NO story is going to be read if it doesn't have characters that grab and hold the reader. Cardboard people are not going to hold anyone's interest.  Write up a character sketch or use a character profile that will allow you to show that character and who she or he is over the course of your plot.

3. Provide a problem for that character. That is where you begin to develop your plot. Do you want your character to solve a murder, take part in a caper, fall in love? What do you want your character to do and from there you can start to work on the plot of your story.

4. Don't forget to add dialogue.  Your characters need to speak.  Just telling the story is not going to be interesting. You need to make certain you are including dialogue in your scenes or you are just telling the story. We want you to show your story, not tell it, and dialogue shows what is happening.

5. Make a plot list so that you see the scenes you have in your story. You need an opening and that can have several scenes, but what happens?  Building a plot list can help you keep your story organized. Now if you don't know where to go after the opening scene, think about what you want your ending to be. Where do you want your characters to end up? Write that down as your last plot point and then start filling in the middle. What else do you know should happen? Keep listing those things until you have a semblance of a plot. You can always change as you go along.


And once you have decided to write a story, then get busy. Start getting scenes, character sketches, ideas down on the written page.  Go back to that original premise. If you want to write a story, you have to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!



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