Now it’s time to actually start your story! Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you begin your first chapter and keep going on from there.
First, you need some sort of an outline or plan for where your plot is going. People who don’t have an outline or plan often have stories that seem to be wandering aimlessly and have no point or purpose to their stories. Make sure that doesn’t happen!
There are three ways you can go about outlining:
Traditional Outline: This is when you write out the title of every chapter, which characters are in each chapter, and what happens in each chapter. While it doesn’t need to be THAT in-depth, knowing generally what happens in each chapter will keep you from wandering, getting writer’s block, or losing focus. I tend to use this approach, but not quite as detailed as I described above.
Writing Backwards: For people who have a hard time outlining, this might work for you. It sounds kind of radical, but start writing your book right before or right at the climax. Once you have the climax and resolution written, go backwards from there. Now you know how the important part in your story (the climax) is written and what you need to do to get to the climax! People who write this way usually have a very convincing plot and great flow to their story.
Writing scenes from your story and then piecing them together: This works very well for some books and for some people. I’m in the outlining/beginning writing stage for my third book. My third book covers the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and there’s no way that I’m going to write the whole forty years out! So I’m writing little sections at a time and going to tie them together with dialogue. It’s been a blast! And then I can write whatever sections I feel like that day. Stephen and Alex Kendrick, writers and producers of “Flywheel,” “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof,” and “Courageous” also use the same technique for their movies. They’ll write certain scene ideas down and color them. Pink=romantic scenes, purple=normal scenes, orange=comedy scenes, blue=sad scenes, and so on. Then they lay them out in order. If there are too many funny scenes close together or too many sad scenes close together they switch things around so that they can take their characters through a very emotional journey.
Second, avoid too much detail in your writing. People who read books don’t like a lot of information at once. They like to get only a little tiny bit at a time, enough to keep them guessing and make them read the next chapter. Don’t overwhelm them with information. They’ll stop reading your story if you do!
Third, if you’re starting at the beginning, come up with some kind of conflict to start out. For example, say you have a thirteen-year-old boy at home by himself building a robot. That would be a kind of boring opening. BUT… What if the house gets broken into while the boy is there alone? That would immediately grab people’s attention and possibly introduce the villain to your story.
Fourth, be super creative! Think outside the box and be suspenseful! Try hard not to copy anything that you’ve read before.
And finally…. Have fun! Writing is a blast when you have the time and creative energy to put into it. If you’re writing and it sounds forced or you don’t like the way it’s turning out, step back and take a break. If it still doesn’t get easier after that, it might be time to get your writing buddy involved.
Next week we’ll be talking about common mistakes beginning writers make in the first couple of chapters. So see how much you can get written in that amount of time so you can start critiquing your work! Happy writing!
1. Figure out how you’re going to outline/write your book. Are you going to do a traditional outline, put the pieces together, or write backwards? Make sure you have your main goals written out and know what happens at the climax.
2. Start writing! See if you can get one or two chapters done by next week! Go go go!