So – you’ve decided that you want to write fiction, you sit down at the computer, all ready to start…. And…… you realize that you don’t know how to. You write a bit, but all of those amazing story ideas that you had, yesterday, as you were driving home in the traffic, they all seem to have fled. Your mind is outstandingly empty.
What do you do?
DON’T GIVE UP!
Instead, follow these 5 simple steps, and you will have a completed story, in 30 days or less! (if you really get into it, and lock yourself away for the weekend, it could be done in as little as a few days)
Step One – Realize these 4 key things
- Understand that writing fiction is a process – it’s a rare writer who has stories, fully realized, just pop into their head and stay there, neatly, while they rush through typing them out.
- No matter how many amazing ideas you have had, you need to pick one – just one – the one that has a setting / topic areas that you know most about – research is fun, but it takes a lot of time.
- recognize that you are going to write something fairly short to start with – not too short – that is actually harder than long! But short – you may have an epic series in you, but the most encouraging thing to keep you going is to get your first piece of work published, and out there.
- accept that stories need to have a Premise (a reason for things to happen) and a Plot (the things that happen….) so just writing, and wondering what happens next, whilst it will produce a story of some sort, is unlikely to produce a good one!
Step Two – let’s start to capture your story! Write down the answers to the following
- What is the premise of your story? Why do things happen? (The main character has life issues, and suddenly something has happened to force them to confront them??? or what?)
- Who are your main characters? You will need at least the protagonist, and an antagonist of some kind. Will your story have a romantic element? If so, you will need a second protagonist (unless the bad guy is also the love interest). Write yourself some notes about each of your main characters – what they look like, how they act and why, stuff they like etc – the things that make them unique human beings.
- Decide what kind of ending you want – is this a ‘happy ending’ story? Or will it leave some things hanging? How will you end it, so that the reader feels like they have been given a resolution, and is satisfied?
- What twists, turns and conflicts can you use, to make the story interesting, and get your characters to the end? (You are doing SHORT remember – don’t go and get too convoluted here!). Make some plot notes about the order that those things happen in.
- Where, and when, is your story set? Is it in the past, contemporary or in the future? Is it in a specific city or country, or in an imagined place? Write yourself some notes about the location, time period and key things about there/then that can be mentioned to make the setting real for the reader, or which are important to the plot twists or the premise of your story.
Step Three – And now to start the actual writing!
- Set aside some time when you can be distraction free. Read through those notes that you made in step 3. Is there one particular scene that happens in your story, which you can see instantly, clearly, in your mind?
- Write that scene! It does not matter where it is in the story – you don’t have to start at the beginning and write to the end – just write the bits that are clearest. You can put it all in the right order later, and you can always change and edit if you decide that something needs to happen differently.
- Remember that writing is not a precious perfect gem, never to be touched again once written. Instead, it is a diamond in the rough, needing some cutting and polishing to get to its final shape. Polishing comes later – for now, create something that you can then polish!
Step Four – keeping writing until it’s done.
- The most common thing that stops books being born, is people starting, but never finishing. Decide to finish, and remind yourself regularly.
- Set aside a specific time each day (when you know that you have a good chance at being undisturbed for at least 30 minutes) and sit down to write then
- Make a promise to yourself that, every day at that time, you will write at least one sentence. Just one. If, after one, you feel inspired to continue, do so, until you run out of energy, or life interrupts again.
- If you don’t feel inspired, don’t beat yourself up, just write your one sentence, and leave it for that day. Even at one sentence a day, it will still get written in the end!
- If you can write just one A4 or letter page worth of story each day, then, in 30 days, you will have a 10,000 to 13,000 word story.
- That’s doable, isn’t it? – just one page a day, if you can get past that first sentence, aim for a page.
Step Five – Now you polish it!
- Remember – it’s not going to be perfect, instantly.
- After you stop writing, give it a few days, and come back to it.
- Go through it from the start, making sure that all of the events of the story are in the right order (even if you didn’t write them in that order, now you need to assemble them into the final order)
- Look for spelling and grammar failure, look for places where you may have used the wrong word (where words are similar, but with different meanings, or where automatic spell checker may have “helped” you), and look for continuity errors. Continuity errors are when you accidentally call a character by the wrong name, or where you talk about them putting an object down, but then its magically back in their pocket again…..
- Look for places where the sentences don’t “flow” – where it’s not instantly clear what you mean.
- Triple check dialogue – is it always clear who is speaking? (without perpetually saying “He said, she said”)
- Adjust whatever you need to.
- Get someone else to read it, and get them to check for the same sorts of things.
- Fix anything you need to – and…….
Format for wherever you want to publish, put a gorgeous cover on it, and publish.
It’s not hard unless you think it’s hard….. That doesn’t mean that you will suddenly be a really good writer – your writing will still improve, every time you write – you will keep learning new things, and getting better at creating characters, and good story structures, but it does mean that you will be a published writer, that your work will be out there, for all to see, and to encourage you to keep writing.
Written by Kim Lambert and originally published at http://bookmarketingtools.com/blog/5-steps-to-writing-your-first-fiction-book-fast/