Monthly Archives: December 2017

START WRITING A BOOK: a beginners guide

 

start writing a book

START WRITING THAT FIRST WORD

To start writing a book, you need some form of commitment, but if you find yourself coming up with a list of reasons why you can’t commit to getting started on that book you say you dream of writing,  you don’t want to write it badly enough.

Your book will never get written unless you write that first word, and if you don’t write that all important first word, there’s a good chance you don’t really want to write that book, even if you say you do.

Are you frighted of failure? Remember blank pages don’t get published!

WRITING A BOOK – Three types of people

  • There are those who are going to write a book.
  • And there are those who are not going to write a book.
  • Then there are those who fail in their attempts to write a book.

As with most things in life, it’s not always those who complete a manuscript who are the most talented, the best educated or the most charismatic. The single most common trait among people who have written a book is. . . they didn’t give up.

If you are a quitter, you should choose something less complicated, frustrating and tedious than writing a book.  The truth hurts.

Do you want to write a book?  Really, really want to write a book! Then go for it, and don’t give up.

Who can Write a Book?

Anyone who can, even you, and you don’t need to be a grammar geek. You will probably know people who fancy themselves as an editor. Ask then to read your manuscript – when you’ve finished it of course, and flatter the rest of your friends to become a beta- reader. You’ll be surprised how people love being asked to do this important task.

Why Should You Start Writing?

As with most ventures, you should examine your motives. If you want to write a book to become famous, you may be disappointed. If you want to get rich quick, you’d be better off buying a lottery ticket.

But if you have a story that burns within your brain and you feel compelled to share with anyone who will listen, write it down. You have the beginnings of a book.

Develop Your Own Style

Developing your own style is important for you to stand out from the crowd. Write however you feel is right for you.  That’s how you will create a uniqueness You’re the artist.  Write any way you’d like. Nobody tells painters what to paint or singers what to sing.  As an amateur, you have the freedom to choose your own way of putting your thoughts into words.

Always be yourself, and strive to be original. Read other’s book and take tips from them, but be brave enough to do it your way.

What do you have to lose?

What Should You Start Writing About?

The trick is to embark upon a writing road that sustains your interest and keeps you excited and engaged throughout the process. If you can’t wait to get down to work every morning and approach your composition with excitement and enthusiasm you are on the right track. If not, as the saying goes, don’t give up your day job.

Choosing a topic might be your most difficult choice. Whatever you choose, ensure you do your research, or your readers will think:

  • You have no idea what you’re writing about.
  • You either the lack the skill, preparation or sense to communicate.
  • Your writing isn’t worth their time.

Pick something that brings out your passions. Sooner or later, the joy of writing will become a task, so choose something you’ll enjoy for the long bumpy ride to your destination.

Start brainstorming and then, write. Write some more. And don’t give up.

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BASIC STORYTELLING

 Storytelling

BASIC STORYTELLING: A quick guide

There are three things that any story needs in order to be able to function whether it is a short story, a novella, flash fiction or an epic hundred chapters. They all must have:

A Beginning, a Middle, and an End.

The Beginning is where the characters are introduced, particularly the main character and his or her problem.  You introduce the reader to the setting, the characters and the situation (conflict or inciting incident) they find themselves in, as well as their goal.  A situation that drives the main character from their “normal” life toward some different conflicting situation that the story is about.

The Middle is where the action moves the plot forward as the story takes shape, and where the main character(s) are confronted with some form of challenge. The challenges prevent them from achieving their goal and could be from anything, or anybody. In the Middle, the story develops through a series of complications and obstacles, each leading to a mini-crisis. Though each of these crises is temporarily resolved, the story leads inevitably to an ultimate crisis—the Climax. As the story progresses, there is a rising and falling of tension with each crisis, but an overall rising tension as we approach the Climax. (A crisis or conflict can be life-changing for your character or as small as missing a bus, so preventing them achieving a goal they desired e.g. getting a new job)

The End is the part of the story where the main character(s) face and overcome their challenge (or may even fail if your story is a tragedy). The resolution should be satisfying to your readers, so they’re not wondering why they invested so much time on a worthless story. In the End, the Climax and the loose ends of the story are resolved during the Denouement. Tension rapidly dissipates because it’s nearly impossible to sustain a reader’s interest very long after the climax. Don’t drag on the ending and leave your readers asking ‘what was that all about?’ Finish your story and get out.

A SAMPLE OF STORYTELLING

To find an example of storytelling, look no further than the good old fairy story you heard as a child.

ACT ONE: Cinderella: in the first act poor ‘Cinders,’ is keeping house for her father and two ugly sisters.  The readers are introduced to the characters and find out what Cinderella’s dreams are (her goals).

ACT TWO: Consists of the actions to move the story forwards to achieve ‘Cinders’ dream of going to the ball. The Fairy Godmother, the mice and pumpkin turning into a carriage to transport her to the ball and Prince Charming. Everything is going great until midnight. Catastrophy!(conflict) Cinderella has to flee the ball, as she changes back into her rags, losing a slipper on the way.

ACT THREE: She’s back to slogging away at the housework, when…… yes, you remember. The prince turns up with the slipper that will only fit Cinderella’s foot. Ah, a satisfactory end. A rag to riches story as Cinderella weds her prince. Everyones happy

The three acts sound simple, but if you’ve ever tried writing a story, you will know it is easy to have an idea. (A poor girl wanting to marry a prince?) But to move your characters forward in order for them to achieve their goals (meets her fairy godmother) can be hard to figure out for the satisfactory end(the prince and Cinderella live happily ever after.)

storytelling

A BASIC STORY THAT HAS ENCHANTED THOUSANDS OVER THE YEARS.

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STORY IDEAS: planning your writing

story ideas

Now that we’ve talked about what is required for a story, such as the character arc and the story arc, we need to discuss Ideas for your story. Writing ideas are made up of four basic ingredients: character, plot, theme and setting. A clever plot is not enough.

PLANNING AND FINDING STORY IDEAS

  • Start by brainstorming each of the four elements above, one by one. Don’t rush at this stage. I know you’ll be champing at the bit at this stage but be patient and take your time on this part – there is a lot of wonderful ideas hiding deep inside you waiting to be discovered, but it takes time to bring it to the surface.
  • In the second stage, try playing with the results, rearranging them like jigsaw pieces, until you arrive at the perfect story idea for you. (Index cards, pieces of paper or sticky notes can be useful to do this)

To get the most out of this stage of the planning, try not to think ahead to Stage 2 until you’ve well and truly finished the first stage.

The point of brainstorming is to come up with a host of potential story ideas, but this won’t happen if you jump ahead and try writing your story ideas too early.

Also, if you already have a firm idea in your mind of the novel you want to write, try to disregard it during this process.

You might come up with a better idea, or find a new spin on your existing idea, or perhaps find a way to create a whole series of novels similar to the one you already have in mind.

Finally, take as long over this planning stage as necessary.

Writing a novel represents a huge time commitment (probably several years) so it makes sense not to settle on an idea until you know it is the right idea.

FIND STORY IDEAS BY BRAINSTORMING

  • Take out a pencil and a notebook or some sheets of paper. Or use a computer/laptop if you prefer to work that way. I find this way easier because I can read my own scrawled writing.
  • Find a quiet place, and relax. Put your phone on silent and sit back and think. Let ideas pass in and out of your head
  • Depending on the theme you want to choose, different types of music might inspire you.
  • When the ideas are tumbling around your head, sit up and begin to write them down under each of the four categories mentioned before.

CHARACTER IDEAS

The chances are that your imagination is already chock-full of great characters. (For writers, having a head full of fictional characters is an acceptable way of still having imaginary friends in adulthood!)

But if you don’t have any ideas for characters yet, don’t worry – they will come to you when you think of people you’ve met over your lifetime. Now all you have to do is take all these traits and characteristics and reassemble them to form brand new people. It’s great fun taking bits of one person’s character and mixing it with another. They become your own unique characters.

story ideas

ASK YOURSELF

How many people do you know, or have known,  throughout your life? Hundreds? And that includes everyone from your closest family and friends, through work colleagues and neighbours.

Add to that the thousands more people you’ve seen on television or read about in newspapers and magazines and books, and you have a vast stockpile of character traits and behaviours and physical characteristics from which to construct your fictional characters.

Oh, and don’t forget the biggest inspiration for characters in novels that there is your self!

A novel has dozens of characters, but all you are interested at this moment of brainstorming are the main characters who will be the protagonist of the story.

You don’t need to flesh them out in any detail at this stage or construct elaborate biographies for them  For now, little one-line character sketches are perfect…

  • A forty-something man, recently divorced.
  • A rookie detective who is desperate to solve their first case.
  • A bitter old woman who hates children.

These are ideas for characters, that may sound rubbish to one person, but will inspire another.

During this brainstorming, you don’t want to linger on any individual area for too long. Just get some ideas down on paper then move on. Or to put it another way, go for quantity here rather than quality. Why? Because this gives you the best chance of trawling the deepest recesses of your mind and imagination. Needless to say, creativity isn’t something that we can just turn on full force, like a water tap. But try and see this stage of the writing process as fun and exciting, – and if all else fails – check out a few classics or fairy stories and see if you can put a new, modern twist on them.

Do you have ways of brainstorming ideas that you’d like to share with other writers? Let’s hear them.

Next time we’ll discuss brainstorming for themes and setting, and then follow on with putting all your ideas together.

 

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WRITING A STORY ARC

 

writing story arc

 

If you are writing a book or other form of content knowing how to structure your work with a story arc will make your planning so much easier. This session leadS on from BASIC STORYTELLING

  1. Introduction (writing the exposition)

    Gives a brief background of setting and plot (answers the questions where, when, and who) and then describe the main character’s background and personality

  2. Stasis

    Is the status of your character in their “everyday life” in which the story is set. Think of Cinderella sweeping the ashes, Jack (of Beanstalk fame) living in poverty with his mum and a cow, or Harry Potter living with the Dursley’s.

  3. Inciting Incident

    Something beyond the control of the protagonist (hero/heroine) is the trigger which sparks off the story. A murder is committed, somebody goes missing, a fairy s godmother appears,  a mysterious letter arrives … there’s no turning back – it’s happened.

  4. The goal

    The inciting incident results in a goal – an unpleasant incident (e.g. a murder) might involve a goal to bring the murderer to justice and return to the status quo; a pleasant incident (e.g. finding the man/woman of their dreams) means a goal to maintain or increase the new pleasant state.

  5. Conflict

    Introduces the problem while describing what is preventing your character from reaching their goal.  Conflict can be anything from a decision the character has to make, a personality clash with another character, or a problem that has to be solved.

  6. Resolution

    The resolution is a return to a fresh stasis – one where the characters should be changed, wiser and enlightened. This can be a resolution that doesn’t gain the character’s goal but moves them forwards toward that goal. More conflict here will raise the tension as more action is required to reach the climax.

  7. Rising Action

    Describes the events leading up to the climax. The actions the charact takes to achieve the goals

  8. Climax 


    The critical choice(s) made by your protagonist need to result in the climax, the highest peak of tension, in your story.Resolution of the conflict and height of the action.

  9. Reversal

    The reversal should be the consequence of the critical choice and the climax, and it should change the status of the characters – especially your protagonist. For example, a downtrodden wife might leave her husband after a row; a bullied child might stand up for a fellow victim and realise that the bully no longer has any power over him; The Prince recognises Cinderella.

  10. Falling Action (resolution)

    The effects of the climax and resolution on the characters. The story resolution, or denouement, concludes the action and all the loose ends are gathered together. The main character obtains their goal, vanquishes a foe, and returns home.
    (e.g. Cinderella finds her Prince, Jack saves his mother from poverty, the prince saves Sleeping Beauty)

  11. Conclusion  

    is the moral of the story your writing and closing thoughts

THE HOOK

You must hook readers into your story from the very first chapter,  if you don’t they may lose interest and read no further than the first few chapters. The hook comes in many forms and is nothing more or less than a question. The question must drive your readers’ imagination to wonder what happens next!

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