When I talk about Where Shadows Dwell, I am often met with a comment similar to this. “I would love to write, but I just don’t know where to start.” They go on to tell me that they have great ideas, but they can’t figure out how to get them on paper. While I understand the hesitancy to begin – a book is a daunting project – I usually tell them to just start. Just start writing your book! You don’t have to have every scene laid out. I can guarantee you if you never start you will never finish either.
The thing I want people to realize is that tomorrow is going to come whether you start or not. You’re going to wake up one day older, but no days closer to your goal. This may sound like I’m a Debbie Downer, but that is reality. Goals cannot be achieved if you never take the first step down the road. This applies in anything you ever do, not just writing. Even if you don’t know where to start, find a place and start. Eventually, you’ll figure out where your going. Now, that being said, when writing a book there are things you can do that may make the process easier, and I’m going to share them with you. These tips are just that – tips – and they aren’t necessarily going to be the answer for every person, but if you’re struggling getting your words on paper, they might be worth a shot.
Tip number 1
Jot down your story idea. If you have a good idea, write down as much of it as you can. Don’t worry about specific scenes, dialogue, or characters. Just write down the idea and give the story life on a piece of paper or in a Word document. This overview is going to help you get your bearings so when you actually start writing, you’ll have a base to work off of.
Tip number 2
Start writing a scene. When I started Where Shadows Dwell I didn’t have a story idea, no strokes of inspiration or characters that were driving me forward. I simply had the knowledge that I wanted to write. I started with a scene and from there I let the story evolve. Eventually that scene was drastically altered, as was the entire book, but it gave me somewhere to build off of. The key is to get your creative juices flowing and to start discovering your characters. Magic happens when you breathe life into them, and eventually you’ll find that they take on a life of their own. Letting a book take shape under your fingertips is a fascinating experience, I promise. This method worked well for me.
Tip number 3
Put on your writer’s glasses and look at the world around you. Pay attention to what is happening. Often the key to writing is simply getting the idea of what you want to write. When you’re lacking the know-how of where to start, get yourself out of your head and into somebody else’s – real or imagined – and see what happens. I have had many great story ideas come because I’ve let my mind wander into a different life. And I watch people around me and listen to their stories. People have incredible experiences that they’ve lived through. If you pay attention to what you’re hearing, you’ll find something to write about, I promise. When you get your idea, write it down so you don’t forget it!
Tip number 4
Similar to just jotting it down, consider writing an outline of your project. When you jot down your story idea, you’re getting the foundation down where you can reference it later. An outline is different. When you outline you will be going through the entire story from beginning to end and writing down the basics of each scene. It’s like a map that you’re going to follow until you hit the treasure at the end, which is a completed book. The beauty of outlining is that it helps you organize your thoughts in a way that makes sense. When writing, you simply refer back to the outline to make sure you cover all of the main points. The downfall I find to the outline is that it can stifle the creative part of the story taking on a life of its own. So when you outline, remember that the story may likely evolve and you need to be willing to let it. Don’t get so attached that you can’t alter things, but come back to the outline to keep it on track.
While these four tips are going to help you get started, they may not help you keep going. When you lose your motivation, which you probably will sometime in the middle of the book, just remember why you started. You have a story dying to be written or a desire to write that is pushing you forward. Keep these in mind and keep on going. Eventually, that beginning you created will be completed with these words. The End.