There are many want-to-be writers who dream of writing their own book but have no idea where to start.
Starting can be the most difficult part of the journey. You know what you want to say, you’ve plotted it all out (or not), and are eager to finally make a go of getting it done. We all start somewhere, but there is an element of patience involved. Even for seasoned writers who know what direction they’re going, it can be a challenge.
There are formal and informal ways to start a book. There are rules to follow and rules to ignore or break. The thing you must do is find a way and a rhythm that works for you.
If you want to start your story off with “Once upon a time…” or “It was a dark and stormy night…” please be my guest but know that such cliche beginning must be edited out. Just want to give you fair warning.
Here are ten ways to start after you’ve decided to write a book….
Okay. The decision is a firm one. You’re ready to go… Let’s see what’ll work for you.
- Begin with an inciting incident. Here, something happens to catch the reader and bring about excitement, tension, and raises questions about what will happen. Writing this way means an inciting incident with an arc to climax and then falling action and resolution. Some find this very formulaic but effective. Check out what author John Mavin says about the Freytag’s Pyramid.
- Another way to write a novel is in scenes. Each chapter can be a scene. It’s like the TV shows between commercials. So let it happen and grow. This doesn’t need to be written in sequence as you can put them together later. Each scene can be from alternating points of view, which is often very effective in keeping the reader moving forward. Think back to when the commercial comes on in your show–it’s a a cliffhanger, right? and then they come back but are focused on someone else.The intrigue of having to know what happens keeps the audience (in this case the reader) coming back.
- Write with your heart. If you really want to write a literary masterpiece that follows a more twisted and artistic logic and plot then go for it. Go where your heart and talents take you. Many writers will tell you that the words flow through them and they are but a vessel of delivery… So don’t be afraid to follow your muse.
- Maybe you’re a plotter where you’ll do a detailed outline of the plot and then make several pages of notes on the characters and their motivation, characteristics and traits. This works for some who are very detail oriented and like rules…it’s like plugging it in and filling in the empty spots. Go!
- Perhaps you’re a “pantser” (the opposite of a plotter or planner). You decide Monday morning that you want to write a book and you think about it for a few days and then sit down and start writing and don’t stop. This is like flying by the seat of your pants. This type of writing is usually quite messy but fixed at the revision stage. Go.
- You may decide to start at the end. A good and exciting end can make a book a bestseller. After all, it winds up the story and is memorable. Here’s the thing…you have to get there. Work your way backwards and do a reverse outline.
- You start on page one. This is doable too. Put your butt in the chair every day and pump out 2,000-3,000 words. An average novel is 80,000–you do the math. It’s not easy because after that first draft you need to let your manuscript sit and marinate for a few weeks before you can go in and get some edits done.
- You learn by reading other books and seeing how they’re laid out and what makes you continue reading. As you become aware of the format, the vocab, the flow, ….it will spur you to make it into your own story.
- I start in my head. Yup! My twisted writer brain. Seriously. Characters speak to me and I listen. They relate story and satire. They wake me up in the middle of the night and poke me in the brain during the day when I’m trying to get other stuff done. These characters become part of me. They start to become real and fleshed out in personality until I **know** them. Once I’m ready to start writing I take a deep breath and invite them to the writing session. Most times they show up and fall out the end of my fingers. Ahhh….the best.
- Where do you start? Well, like many you start with the question that shows you want to learn and grow as a writer. This is a very good thing. Be open to letting in advice, tips, and opinion but always find the way that YOU want to do it. It may take time. It may fall out. But no matter what, nothing will happen if you don’t act. Action is key and I know you can do it.
Writing a book or novel is hard work or everyone would be doing it. It takes a ton of patience and dedication. The thing is that a great story and well thought out characters can override the writing. Coming up with the twists and unique slants to a story offer it an edge. The craft of writing can, and should, be learned but it can also be edited and that’s why a good story should always be told.
You’ll never know if you don’t try. Here are some posts you may find helpful as you begin to put your ideas together for a story. Remember, you’ll never know unless you try.
Tips on How to Succeed with Jonas Saul
Writing Truths with Carol Rose GoldenEagle
11 thoughts on “How to Finally Get That Book Started”
I have debated about where to start my memoir and finally decided to leave it up to readers. I have two different starting points and took a poll on which was best leaving it to readers. Social media decided where I should start my book. When I am deciding on a book I read the back jacket and the first few paragraphs. So I figured that was normal so I gave social media that option and they decided for me. This is where I started. Go to my website under memoir and read chapter One at http://www.janicebarrett. ca.
Hi Janice. Yes, I remember we chatted on FB about your memoir. I’m so happy that you found a way to start and get it going. That’s a huge hurdle to overcome! The back cover with the snippets of the contents is HUGE as it catches the reader. Thanks so much. Will try and get to your site asap. xo
great advice from one who knows, thanks, Faye
Thanks Beth. So appreciate the kind words. xo
Thank you for another wonderful and helpful post. Most of the time I think you can’t be sure if you’ve started a novel in the right place until you finish a first draft—even if you’re a plotter (which I am). So I tend not worry too much about where I start. Just start—that’s the important thing.
Hi Michelle. Thanks for stopping by. We can really drive ourselves crazy by wanting it all to be perfect and “easy” but that’s not reality, is it? You gotta pick your road and start walking!
Oh! And toss around ideas with other writers and readers–especially young ones who are still openly creative and non-judgmental!
Yes. Young people have such vivid imaginations. I wish there were more avenues for them to write.
Something I am working on… 🙂
keep moving forward. it’ll come…I know it.