- P. Barrera
So you have an idea.
You have an idea. You have a deep, stirring desire to write down your idea. You want to write a book! You want to share your idea with the world, and you're ready to pour your blood, sweat, and tears into it. But you're not sure how to get started.
In this post we will talk about how to formulate your idea into a cohesive piece of writing, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. We will break each step down into three categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
If you've never written a book before, it can be very intimidating. You may be having flashbacks of English class, and slaving away over papers for grades. But never fear! Writing your book is much more fun than writing a paper :)
To get started, you need to decide what your most used platform will be; are you a pencil-and-paper kind of writer or do you prefer a keyboard? Either is a great choice, but try to go with one that limits the amount of work you have to do later as far as transcribing/editing/sharing with beta readers or editors.
When I first began writing RTR, all those years ago, most of it was on paper. However, as the story grew and evolved, it was much easier just to write it on my computer. It actually helped me to become a better typist, which was really helpful in computer class!
So now that you've decided on your medium, it's time to get to the story. What is your story about?
Stories, no matter the length, typically have 3 sections: a beginning, a middle, and an end. Seems simple, right? If you don't know where your story is going yet, that's okay. Start an outline. Draw an idea cloud. Start making notes about where your story will go. But most importantly, START WRITING!
Put some words onto paper. They don't have to be perfect. Write it, even if it doesn't feel right. You can always edit later. Your first step is to JUST GET STARTED.
So you've had your idea, you've sorta started working on it, but you might not really have your 3 areas flushed out. Again, take some notes. Build an idea bubble. Take some of your small details and start to build on them.
In RTR, I began to take notes about who the people were, where they lived, and some of their back story. Who did they know? How are they related to the other characters? What is the main conflict, and how do your characters play into it? What is their role in helping the Main Character resolve the conflict?
This will help you to start filling in some of the gaps in your story, and start lending personality to your characters. Remember, your characters are multi-dimesional, just like a real person! They have a beginning, they have catalysts that have made them who they are, and they have memories and experiences. You don't need to know all of that at the beginning, but it helps to start thinking about those things.
You've started building your story, you've started thinking about your characters, and now you're ready to start flushing out your world.
As I wrote RTR, even though the first book doesn't really talk much about Gexalatia, I still had an image in my mind about what it would be like. I knew what the physical features would be of the landscape, and I had an idea of what the people would look like. Now, as I'm approaching exploring Gexalatia, I'm thinking about things like lore, legends, religions, cultures. What kind of money do they use? What kind of goods do they export? What countries control what things economically?
It is important for this step to come last. If your story is in its infancy, thinking about all of this can be too much and overwhelming. Again, use your outline, your timeline, your idea bubbles, and your notes to start adding these things in.
Some of these things aren't immediately important, and some of them don't necessarily have anything to do with your story, and that's okay. Most of the notes I take for myself are simply for me. They help me to be immersed in my fantasy world, and for me to get into the right mindset to write about it. Not all of this is necessary for every story.
Of course, the most important thing to remember is to write. You can never develop your story unless you write. Do whatever it is that helps you focus, whether it's silence, listening to music, watching TV, whatever! Just remember to actually write.
And also remember that this is not a project that will complete itself in a day! There are books out there that promise you can write a novel in 7 days, but I don't believe that works for most people. Spend time thinking about what you're imagining. Write down your ideas, draw pictures, keep your juices flowing.
Return to Royalty took 10 years to write, also not a typical time-frame, and it has evolved a LOT in that time. Keep in mind that this is a creative process, and there is no right or wrong way to approach it. What matters is that you start it and strive to finish it. Whatever happens in the middle is up to you!
Now sit down at your desk, fluff your bed pillows, or turn up your music and start writing!