Since I am now a, ahem, fancy schmancy published author, I’ve had a lot of people coming up to me asking about my book. Which is awesome. That inevitably turns to the book they want to write, or wrote in high school, which is totally great, and I love hearing all their stories. But then they start asking questions. Like how did I get to be published (find that long and convoluted story here), and how do I write my books?
The problem is that I don’t know if I write books properly. Or if there is one way that should be considered right. And my process changes with each new project.
But here’s the tiny bit of advice I can give:
Don’t worry about the perfect opening sentence. Don’t worry if you feel as though you’re starting in the middle. If you have a scene in your head, write it down. Then write down the next scene and the next. Hopefully, all your scenes are from the same story. You’ll start finding a pattern, rules for your world, and a voice. And then, once you’ve written a whole lot of scenes, you’ll have a beginning, middle, and end. It will be messy and missing a few pieces of furniture, but you’ll have a whole story.
Then you get to decide if it’s worth the death-defying slog of revisions and edits.
If you’re trying to write your first book and you have a brilliant scene, write it down. Don’t wait for the rest to come. You don’t know how long you’ll have to wait.
I’ve also had the “I’ve heard that being a writer is like having a hundred stories in your head all trying to get out. I totally feel like that.”
There are a hundred characters in my head waiting in line and hoping to make it into a story. But if you keep glancing at each of them, none of them will ever get a chance to shine.
Find, and I know this sounds crazy, the voice that speaks the most. The story that has to be told, and write that. Maybe some of the other characters fit into the big important story, maybe they don’t. But write one story. Daydream about that character, where they are, what they want, and what they need to get it. If you let a hundred voices speak, a story can’t be told.
Writing a book takes discipline, focus, and drive.
I believe in dreaming a hundred daydreams. But you have to dream all those dreams for one character to build a story. And write down those dreams, one at a time. You never know how large a story could unfold.