Wednesday, 20 March 2013

How to Start?

After spending the past year preparing books to put up on Kindle, and doing rewrites of previously written stories I'm finally at the point where I need to write something new. I've had the idea for the story in my head for a while, knew the location, characters and roughly what was going to happen - but for the past week I've been dithering about without actually writing anything. I set up the file, but in the header and footer and downloaded all the research material I will need – but still couldn't begin. I wondered how anyone else gets over this initial hesitation. 1. Do you plan your story in such detail that you've already got the first chapter more or less written? 2. Do you cut pictures from magazines and pin them up to give you visual clues to your characters? 3. Do you get the plot first and the characters second? 4. Do you start with action/conversation/scene setting? 5. Do you edit as you go along/each morning before you start again/wait until the end? 6. How much do you have to put down before the story takes off and writes itself? My answers to the above are as follows: I don't plan anything nowadays, although when I first started writing I had every scene mapped out. I don't see my characters in my head but I do hear them talking. For me characters come first and the story second. I start with conversation and action but rarely with scene setting. I edit as I dictate – as I use voice recognition software I have to do this or might end up with something incomprehensible. I also read what I've written the day before and alter anything that needs doing. However I don't do anything else until the book's finished. I'm delighted to say that I've now written two pages of the first chapter but it hasn't taken off yet - I think I'll need to get around 5000 words down before that magical moment occurs. At the moment I'm doing anything rather than opening the file; it's so long since I've written a new book I've almost forgotten the excitement you get when your characters come alive and you can't wait to get your desk every morning. I'm hoping the muse hasn't abandoned me. Looking forward to hearing your answers – it's fascinating learning how other writers work.


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    1. 1 comment:
      Chrissie Loveday20 March 2013 09:52
      It is interesting hearing how others write. I usually start making notes and discover I'm actually writing the story. My current WIP is interesting ... I found something I'd done ages ago for another publisher and started writing that one. I changed everyone's names. Cut out one of the characters and changed the plot. The basic idea is still there so I suppose it was vaguely plotted, though as I said, that is also changing. It's a bit like playing God isn't it? Like you, I don't feel the story takes off till about 5k words into it.

  2. I've now set myself a writing target (better than a weight lose one)and managed my 1500 words today. Book not really flowing - but then I'm still getting to know my new characters. The boys antics are based on my husband's childhood -have given them the same names (Peter and Stanley) Should be racing away by the weekend.

  3. We start off with a basic plot and character profiles. We have great fun with the latter especially finding pictures on the internet. Then we agree on what is going to happen in each chapter, but it's always exciting receiving the document back from the other person and reading what has actually been happening. We don't push ourselves, or each other, to write a certain amount.

  4. I'd love to co-write a book -almost did - but it fizzled out.we did a lot of planning etc before we started - essential with joint ventures.

  5. My story ideas always start with a setting or character - never with a plot, that comes later (and I find it tricky, I have to admit). I usually write the first chapter and have fun with it before settling down to write a plan - this is simply a few lines of what is going to happen in each chapter but inevitably I don't stick to it and the story takes its own shape as I go along. But I need that basic skeleton to work to.
    Because I work I don't write every day and that can be a problem when I come to sit down then on the days I don't work and try to get started it doesn't flow easily. I think I'd be better trying to write even ten minutes every day instead of keeping it all in my head!
    Intrigued to know how to co-write, I can't imagine how that works.

  6. Hmm, it's an interesting discussion as to where a story begins. Mine generally begin with a plot I think, and then I create characters to put into that situation. But not always. Sometimes when I re-use characters I create a plot around them.

  7. Great writer's topic Fenella. :) Because I like to highlight Australian settings, I usually start there and work out the characters' reasons for being in that place, their backstory and conflicts. I try to work out most of the scenes I will need for the book.
    As I do, I find my characters start talking to me so I get some of their conversations down and other snatches that come into my head. I may need to research some bits which help create other scenes and ideas, then I'm good to go. This may take a week or two.
    Then I just start from chapter 1 and try to work most days getting at least 5 pages down so I can chart how long it will take me to write and therefore gives me a self imposed deadline. Which I mostly keep, or fairly close.
    Am currently about 9000 words into an outback novel and hope to get about half done before we're away for a month in Europe [Russia/Switzerland] in May. Rather annoyed to be breaking in the middle yet again - it happened with my last one - so I'll be anxious to get back to it.