How to start writing?

I should know… I’ve written four stories, three novelettes and one novel. And just because I’ve already written four stories, I think I can say how can I (or you?) start writing.

I am now starting to write my fifth story (a continuation to Truths, Half-Truths and Lies) and here are the steps, based on previous experiences, of how I start writing.

  • Have an Idea.
  • Form a Vision.
  • Remember a Dream.
  • Build a Structure.
  • Start to Write.
  • Do not forget to Edit.
  • Always Publish.

Idea

This is a must. I must have an idea what to write. Idea is typically just a thought. Or it can be a scene from the story, a sentence, dialogue between characters or combination of all.  Idea is in the center of everything else.

As an example, let’s take Truths, Half-Truths and Lies. The ideas behind that included: conspiracies, historical events (such as Kennedy assassination, Vela Incident etc) and human civilization joining to galactic community.

Another example, End of an Era. Very simple idea: battle between the Strangers and the Hwzeenn Empire 200,000 years ago.

Vision

Vision is almost like an idea. For me, vision in this context is a thought (at this point) about what kind of story I am writing. Usually, vision includes also how the story will end as well as very high level structure of the story. I don’t necessarily write anything down when I am in “vision phase”. Just thoughts to remember.

As an example from Dawn to Dawn my vision was that the story follows Nick approximately twenty-four hours of his life and it ends as Nick leaves the mining station after the greatest event in human history (one which Nick missed completely). Dawn to Dawn is free, by the way, so check it out. Chapter 6.0 – The Next Dawn of Truths, Half-Truths and Lies is direct continuation of Dawn to Dawn.

Dream

Why to write? Remember your dreams. Writing may be a dream itself. Or writing is a way to achieve dreams (or at least getting closer to achieving dreams). For me, it’s both.

Structure

Having a structure for the story is also a must. Although it is not entirely necessary, I find that it helps to build the story around the idea.

I use structure as to describe the entire story. As an example, the presentation below shows the structure of End of an Era, one chapter a time.

Because structure is done before I actually write anything, the structure may become “obsolete” during the time of writing. Especially because I don’t usually update structure while writing.  But nevertheless, because it is available, I can consult the structure from time to time and direct the story to “correct path”.

Write

And this is where the action is. Writing. As I now have idea, vision, dream and structure, I am in good shape to start writing.

I know what I want to write (idea and vision), why I write (dream) and the story structure. All I need now is time to write. And as I write I think of the idea and structure and I let my thoughts and imagination come to life in the paper (or laptop screen). Although the structure of the story is written down, I don’t necessarily know the details of each chapter or scene. Sometimes I even surprise myself. Really 🙂

Because of limited time, sometimes I write minutes at a time and other times hours at a time.

Edit

Editing is very, very important. During edit, I polish the story, correct inconsistencies, write new scenes if needed etc. I do editing after I’ve written the entire story. My editing is that I start reading the story from the beginning and correcting as I read. I do this several times, three to five times at least.

Editing is slow work and sometimes tedious but it must be done as it will improve the story. For example, after self-editing Truths, Half-Truths and Lies the story word count increased by 4,000 words.

After I’ve done self-edit, I send the story to professional editor who checks the grammar and corrects sentences etc.

Publish

This is it. After editing is done, I publish the story and, in a sense, bring one chapter of my life to an end.

Publishing takes only a short amount of time, as I have experience about publishing already. Smashwords is my chosen channel because I get my stories to other ebook retailers via Smashwords. Very convenient and very easy too.

I have my own Smashwords templates available for all who are interested. I used my own template for Truths, Half-Truths and Lies and I didn’t even have to consult Smashwords style guide.

The End

Not quite.

The cycle starts anew: Idea, Vision, Dream, Structure, Write, Edit, Publish.

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