Starting a New Story

So, you’ve decided to write a story, be it a short story or novel. You’ve got some ideas floating around your brain or just a distracting urge to write something. How do you turn that idea or feeling into something concrete.

There’s two ways you can start:

1. Write right away!

If you already have the first scene in your head then you can do this. But be warned everything has its good and bad side.

Good Side – You’ve started writing immediately, you’re on track and feeling good about it. Wonderful!

Bad Side – You’ve done no planning and have little idea of the themes, character background and direction.

This is probably my favourite technique as it’s the one I most enjoy.

2. Plan before you write.

Especially useful for large novels or stories that you want to head in a clear direction.

Good Side – Before you start writing you have all the information about the characters, setting and back story and this will help you a lot when you put pen to paper.

Bad Side – Your creativity might be stifled and it might take you longer to get down to actually writing.

The Third Option

What? No one told you there’s a third option. Well there is. You can do both!

When starting out a project that you really want to work through in detail but creatively, write the first scenes but also plan out your characters, setting and themes. Work out who’s who to begin with, at what point your story is beginning, and give your characters reasons why they are doing what they are they doing. So work out their motivations first.

Then you look at the first scenes and fix anything that doesn’t work into your plan. For example, if your character has changed their motivation from what you originally wanted, then make sure that’s changed in your first scene.

Quick Tips:

*Remember to keep notes for yourself about what you are changing and why. You can end up with pages and pages of notes but they are all useful.

* Any time you do a writing session or even a session researching things for your story, do leave yourself a brief note somewhere, titled `For Next Session’, reminding yourself what you want to work on next.

I.e. Next session

Find setting for second scene.
Work out character motivation.
Re-write first scene.

These notes are for you and no one else so they can be as informal as you like. You can even scribble next to old notes with details of changes to remind yourself (if you re-read it) what you’ve done. This will enable you to keep clear goals in mind and to always have all the information available. Keep folders, index cards, databases and anything else that you feel that will help you to organize your new project.

And finally…

Enjoy Your Work!

It might be hard at first, but there’s no greater feeling than writing that last few words in your novel, putting your pen down (or taking your fingers off the keyboard) and feeling as if you’ve accomplished something. Remember, not everyone has the committment to finish a novel or story, they have ideas but don’t put the work in. You don’t need to be one of those people. Be proud of your work.


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