Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing: Getting Started

by Brittany Geragotelis

So, yesterday, I announced that I'm writing a new book and mentioned that this is the perfect opportunity for me to let you all in on my process. If you're someone who's always wanted to write a book but never had the motivation, or maybe finishing a novel is on your bucket list, there are many ways that you can achieve your goals. What may be a perfect system for one writer, might just not work for another. You've got to find your perfect flow...but to do that, you've gotta get started!

If you've been itching to write a book, but for whatever reason, never have, I challenge you to do it now. We can do it together! It could be a short story, a pet project, an act of catharsis, a present for a loved one or even a novel you hope to get published one day. No matter your motivation, you can do it!

The one thing that separates aspiring writers from writers is the writing!

Get it? Okay, so, before you get started, you have to have an idea...otherwise, you'll be writing gibberish or just staring at a blank page all day. For some, they just need a spark of inspiration and then they put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard depending on your preference) and let the story guide itself.

I, myself, need an outline. Not only do I need it to keep myself on track and get me to where I want to go with the storyline, but for me, I need to really work out the details of the book. And I don't know about you, but leaving everything up in my head? Not so trustworthy. I tend to start forgetting all the little things I've thought of. Plus, sometimes I may have an idea that seems like it'll work in my head, but when it's out there in black and white just screams, "What were you thinking?!?! This makes no sense!" So, having a working outline is extremely helpful for me.

This weekend, I took my general idea of bringing the Salem Witch Trials into present day and started building the story around this central idea. I often come up with my books this way. I'll be intrigued by the idea of a guardian angel or a first-time actress or fate or a first kiss and I build the story around it, shaping the best way to talk about my subject of interest. I start with the details I know and do a very broad, big plot point by big plot point outline of what I want to have happen in the book. This draft might include some little details, but those usually come later, when I've had a chance to write a bit and get a feel for my characters and the situations they find themselves in.

Remember, this is your outline (and no one will see it but you, unless you're writing non-fiction book and submitting it to an agent), so it's all subject to change at your own will and should only be used as a GUIDE. There have been plenty of times in the past where I've had a plot point down on my outline and realized it wasn't going to work and ignored it completely. That happens sometimes. After all, the story should sort of drive itself.

Once you've got a brief, general outline, you've only got a few other things to do before you can get started! So, get out that paper (or Word document) and get writing!