For my next trick, I will post a blog with a toddler on my lap.
So people have asked for my advice on how to start a book. I’m here to tell you, I have no freaking clue.
I only recently put the pieces together on how this all started coming together for me, and I’m not going to talk about that today. But I do know that once the ball started rolling, it was hard to stop. I wrote because I couldn’t help myself. If you’re determined though, there are a few things that most everyone agrees are good ways to start.
Reading is step one. If you don’t know what to write, you should read. It’s good to get a feel for the way words flow, for how a story should start and end. Think about the stories you love and what’s so awesome about them, and then try to make it your own. Also, reading other people’s work is a great way to start dreaming up your own ideas. This is ridiculous, but once while reading Harry Potter, I invented a girlfriend for him. The idea spun off of itself several times, to the point I had this really cool girl with this really cool gift in my head. Thanks, JK. Or try picking a line from a book and writing what you think should come next. Start with something indistinct. Like avoid character names.
I just opened up A Certain Slant of Light to pick one out for you, but there are too many pretty lines to choose. Just go read a book, okay?
Next, try journaling. Get into the habit of writing. This was one of the big pieces for me. And pretty self-explanatory, yes?
And, as silly as it sounds, you need to daydream. You must. I once read that Stephenie Meyer came up with her ideas because she sat around telling herself stories when she was bored and was shocked to find out that not everyone did that. And I was like… they don’t? I spend time in my head. I have friends that only exist up there. I listen to music and look at pictures. I look at jewelry and houses. I smell things. There’s a beautiful and terrible world around you to draw from. Take it in, bend it, and share it.
And, I guess on the other end, is writer’s block. You get into your story and have no idea what to do next. First, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stepping away from something and coming back to it. Unless you’re on a deadline, give your story room to breathe. Work on something else and give yourself a chance to miss it.
The block usually comes from not understanding something. I’ve mentioned before that for The Siren, I mapped out Akinli’s house, drew the girls’ dresses, made playlists. Those things helped me jump back into the story. If you don’t know what’s going on with a character, you need to ask them. If you don’t know what’s happening next, maybe there’s something you don’t get about your world. Step back and look. Usually, the next chapter is right in front of you.
Is that too vague? I don’t know. But I guess that leaves room for you to ask questions, so yay!
Oh, also! Congrats to Belinda, Kaylyn, BarelyBueno, Maya L, and Lily! Please send your addresses to kierasfriends at gmail dot com, and I will get you your goodies as soon as possible. Wahoo!