I was on Goodreads earlier today and a hopeful author posted a question that a lot of people are interested in. They either want to know because they desire to do the same thing or are curious how an author started. How do you start writing? In this case he wanted to write his own novel.
There were several answers to this seemingly simple question and it got me thinking. I posted my own reply and thought it would make a good post here. It also gave me room to expand a little and give you some insight into my madness.
First of all there are two types of writers: planners and pantsters. In other words those who plan and those who write organically. Figure out which one you are. Your personality should already give you some clues. If you are highly organized and plan your life your probably a planner. If you are I would suggest reading books on outlining and planning a novel. There are tons of resources and courses you can take on creative writing etc. to help get you going. These courses should help you immensely. I can’t give you more specifics because I am not a planner.
Planning actually stifles my creativity. I have two novels now in the works that I know how they are going to end and I’ve actually lost interest, at least for the moment. Yes, it’s a sad and true story. For me it’s like reading the first page of a novel then skipping ahead to the last page. I don’t always care about the middle if I know how it’s going to end. As River Song would say “No spoilers” Sorry I couldn’t resist.
If you are a more, shall we say, free spirited person then you are a panster. In that case, if you have any writing ability at all I would take Nike’s advice and “just do it” write your story. It may be short or long. Your characters may turn out totally different than you plan and you may write yourself into a corner. Welcome to the world of being a panster. Trust me I speak from experience.This is where editing, patience, and even some ADD comes into play.
I have several manuscripts that I started and couldn’t figure out how to finish. I have others that I have cut out entire sections because they didn’t work. One novel was written totally out of order because that’s just how it came to me.
I also tend to switch between projects. I usually have two or three manuscripts I’m actively writing at any given time. At the moment I am editing my new novel, writing a paranormal romance and a holiday themed short story. I never forget about my other projects though. Any time I’m trapped in a car for a long time I’m working through problems.
All this ADD though tends to cause my genres to switch and I write in five different categories now. My favorite though is still epic fantasy. My least favorite is anything I have to do research for. I swore after For Their Sins I would never do it again and I went right back to it. I started a sequel for that why oh why?
Now as a pantser I am not saying that writing books classes and seminars won’t help. I am sure they can be invaluable tools. What I am saying is that you need to find the right one. If I wrote like I did now in my highschool English class my teacher would have died. She wanted outlines, and brainstorming and all kinds of formal techniques. I hated it and now I know why. That’s not me. Find a class or seminar that works with who you are as a writer.
Whether you are a plotter or pantster start writing. You can’t do anything without writing in the first place. Your first stories may not come out like you want. They may be crap. The more you write the better you get. Don’t get discouraged. Let experienced readers (not your friends) read it. Get feedback and listen with an open mind. Talk to other authors and ask advice. Be sure to keep reading as well. It gives you inspiration, improves vocabulary, and grammar.
Good luck! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions need help or simply need to vent.