Let’s face it, there’s no cut-and-dry method of writing. In fact, writing is more than the traditional mainstream novel. You know the one. It’s the novel the guy in Joe Mugg’s is trying to shove down your throat when all you want is a sweet mocha frape. I do my best to expand my reading outside of the vacuum of popular opinion, but sometimes I need some bloody, nasty vampire orgies. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Now here are some pointers!
It all begins with an idea. Like a seed in the soil, with time it will grow into something beautiful. Grab a pen and paper, or the memo pad in your smartphone is a super convenient tool as well. Don’t wait on inspiration. I like to think of inspiration as a procrastination card. It’s easy to play it and spend more time daydreaming. Daydreaming can be viewed as a brainstorming session, but how often do you brainstorm and all of a sudden you’ve won the Voice? That happens all too often for me. I could be slightly ADD, but I’ve never been diagnosed. I have to learn to fight my laziness and really force myself to work sometimes. Start with lists, or the old fashioned idea webs you did in high school. It’s a good way to keep your train of thought straight, and it gives you a physical record of your ideas so you don’t forget them. NEVER skip writing it down and hoping to remember it later. More often than not, you will forget. Make a post-it note, or a voice memo to remind yourself to write it down. Personally I keep a binder for my writing, and my phone’s memo app has a lot of different ideas on it. Don’t worry if you think it’s a bad idea, go ahead and put it down. Make a basic outline to see if it will run its course. If you don’t like it in the end, you can always give it the axe, but if you kill it before it’s time, you might be missing out on a really great story!
Always make sure to research your subject. Nothing kills the writing vibe more than having to stop mid-paragraph and crack a book or open Google. Take plenty of notes and keep them handy!
- Character List
Write down a list of your characters and their relationship to one another. Go ahead and write down what they look like. It’s kind of like building an avatar in the Sims. The world of your story is the same way. When you create this world, it’s your job as a writer to make this world come to life. Write down anything that will give growth to this world. Personalities, style, personal demons, good qualities, place in the status quo, etc. Make sure they all are a separate person. It’s easy to write in the same voice, so make sure you write in a different persona for each character. Take your time and don’t rush it! If you rush your writing you will skip over ideas that you didn’t even know you had. This is where your lists and webs help. They remind you of how you want to build your characters.
- Chapter List
Next you need to decide how deep you want your story to go. Do you want it to be a short story, or do you have a big story you want to tell? Set your bar realistically. Start with chapter one. Decide on the prologue last. That’s when you know if you’ll need to set your story up. Try and make it a goal to weave your story together well enough you won’t need one. I find this is challenging if you’re writing fantasy set in its own universe. Readers can adapt to your world if you make it as vivid as possible. Just try not to make “laundry list” descriptions. Less can be more, and you’ve got the whole book to reveal different sides of a character. Don’t give away all of your mystery at once. You want to keep your reader turning the page, not turning on the television.
Where is this happening? This can be really easy. The best places are places you’ve personally experienced. That’s the most effective way to describe something rather than research it. You can describe what it looks like, but not the local foods and the flavor of the environment. What are the people like? What are some common things they say? What are smells in the air? You can ask a resident, but you won’t know how it feels to be there unless you visit. It’s not impossible to do, but it gives you a perspective you can draw on, like another resource.
- Time Management
You might be worried about finding the time to write. Some people think the best time to write is in the morning, before the worries of the day distract you from working. Personally, I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong time. I don’t like to write before bed, because I’ll get tired and stop. Make sure you write during a set time, even if it’s only a half hour. I personally like to work between noon and dinner. I can run errands in the morning and get everything out of the way, that way when I’m done I don’t feel rushed to write. All I have to worry about is dinner. Just plan according to your schedule, and when it’s time to write, WRITE. Set a page goal, it will give you a target on how much you want to get done. If you feel like writing more and you have time, take advantage of that! You never know when something will come up and you might not get the chance for a few days.
- Rewrite and Edit
When the magical day comes when you write that sweet last sentence of your story, it’s time to destroy parts of it. Think of yourself as the God of your story, except your characters don’t have the privilege of free will. Print a copy if you can and take the good old red pen from your academic days and get to work. Look for grammar and spelling mistakes, and remove parts of stories that don’t contribute. I call these Lames. They drag down your story and serve only as filler. Don’t delete these, but save them as their own story. They might serve as a good short story, or even a basis for a sequel. If it helps move the story forward and develop your character, keep it. The same goes if it has a need-to-know plot twist.
Take these basic tips and start writing! Also, check out my other blogs and check back for future posts! And as always, spread kindness, it cures!