Image sourced from Pinterest. Credit to the owners.
Writing Chapter One…
So many people say that they want to write but can’t. They don’t have the time, the imagination, the resources, skills, it’s too hard etc.
I want to say first of all, it’s not too hard. NEVER is writing too hard. What it is, is time consuming. And that in itself varies depending on your level of dedication.
Anyone can write. Anyone can draft a story, be it 500 words long or 500,000 words long. It’s not hard. Toddlers can verbally tell you a story. Something as inanimate as a tree can tell you a story, the markings in the bark, the damage to a branch. What you hear however, that is how it is told.
Writing comes in many forms, as does story telling. I have read some pretty terrible stories and some pretty great ones. But there are two things I have learned along the way:
- Everyone gets better, rarely is your first story your best. My first fan fictions are shocking compared to my latest.
- Everyone has their own style. This is key for me and it is the one thing I have learned during my time at TAFE studying professional writing. Each person has their own style, strengths, flaws. They all see and tell a scene differently. Some are so incredibly descriptive that you don’t know if you should keep reading or skip that section as you’ve read enough. Some barely have description and tend to leave it to the reader. Find yours and the stories will come. This isn’t just about genre it’s about the way you write as well.
You have the ability to write. Good or bad story telling is still story telling. But it won’t improve unless you start.
Time- that’s a factor many of us have issues with. I spent the first 12 months of my writing life, writing almost full time. Now it’s not as much, but if I ever get published I am happy to go back to that schedule. The more I wrote the better my mojo flowed.
Writing can take very little time, some authors only write a page or two a day, that’s about a book a year. That’s fantastic. Some write less. Some more. Can you get up half an hour earlier? Go to bed an hour later? Type it in over your lunch break?
I will be completely honest, if you want to write you’ll find the time. Writing is a passion and something that you need to want to do for yourself, for others, for your characters. It’s just a matter of putting words to paper.
So many people think you need something fancy to get your story out. You don’t. Pen and paper will do. Although publishers usually only accept typed copies now days. You can write your novel in anything from MS Word to Apple’s Pages, there is even software like Open Office that is free to download.
I tried using Scrivener but failed miserably. I found it too distracting and complicated. I like to be able to source what I need when I need and just have a basic word processing program. I have even added to my stories on my smart phone and tablet using the notes app and sent it through to myself and reformatted it to fit.
Skills, like the story telling ability, are something you learn along the way. Read other books, see how the novel is formatted, how they present it. Take note of punctuation and grammar. Even Google it. Everything is on the internet, you just have to search for it. There are even free lessons on grammar available. Most word processors come with a free spell check, it’s a great starting place, but never rely on it for everything.
When you discover something you were doing wrong or have trouble with it, write it down and stick it somewhere you can see. My wall is covered in grammar notes from when I first started. Including two brief sentences “Grasping for breath.” and “Remember to breathe.” I kept getting the two mixed up and it was just easier that way. Now I don’t need them but it was great to have that reminder. Same with the difference between then and than. While I knew them, in the midst of typing away or editing, I found I would have mental blanks and the reminder was helpful.
When it comes to imagination I will admit some people aren’t as imaginative as others. But that’s fine. It comes with practice. Start by trying to picture things in your head, your favourite TV episode, recall a conversation, think about what you would have said if they have of said the opposite. Then learn to question things. In primary school we were always taught research involved:
Story telling has the same basis.
Who is involved in it?
What is happening?
When does it happen?
Where does it take place?
Why is it happening?
How does it happen?
Starting with these basic questions is a great way to begin to plan a novel if you need that extra help.
But most importantly you need to take the plunge and start. It doesn’t even have to be the beginning of your story. Write the ending first, the middle it doesn’t matter what order it comes together in as long as it does. If you’re worried about it all flowing nicely afterwards. Don’t. It’s why we edit.
What are your tips for starting your first story?