How to Start Writing a Story

Getting started writing a story

An approach is simply not to worry about "starting" as you did at the beginning. The novelist Sandra Cisneros (House on Mango Street, Carmelo and many other books) takes a different path. Is the book supposed to be a series of flashbacks? Will I write the last page first? Our Reading Activists Writer in Residence, Andrew Hammond, gives you some top tips to get your story going:

Where do you begin to write?

Editor-in-Chief Eric Olsen, co-author of We Wanted To Be Writers. For me this is an important subject because I spend many years to read the book before I continued with this! You may also like the How To Use A Novel Minicourse - click here for more information.

For as many good reason not to get started as there are authors who face a persistent empty page, but I think for many of us hanging up is fear of going the wrong theater. Perhaps you have an ingenuity for a novel, perhaps it's a great invention, and before you begin to make that novel, the opportunities are limitless and the invention stays great.

However, once you have started out on a certain journey with certain personalities and certain circumstances, the opportunities are no longer so open. You have now taken a route, and what if you have gone the right way? When you have an image for a novel or history that may be somewhere in these scrolls, especially if you are a obsessive explorer like me, and you use the research to shift what you need to do, namely to begin, try to write about a person who might or might not be in this history; this is ultimately the exploring, but not beginning on a certain pathway, a little like Sandra's butts.

Even better, begin with two personalities doing something. When you have two personalities, they can interactively speak to each other. More than 30 years ago, one of our teacher in Iowa, the deceased writer Vance Bourjaily (The End of My Life, The Violated and many others) once said to our classmates that good dialog is a struggle, a struggle of personality, lust and what is at risk.

Actions and dialog are ways to get into a character's mind, into their own mind and thus into history. One of the other teachers proposed to have a chat with your personalities to find out who they are and what they want to find your storyline.

but I needed a punch in the butt. So I asked each of them how he or she got into this and what he or she wanted, and I got an answer. It was a string of dialogue, and I was astonished at how the protagonists began to take on new lives and talk for themselves when I gave them the chance to tell me what they wanted and what the tale should be.

This was an exciting, freeing practice because I was free of the load of worry about how each and every one of my characters would suit the game. It gave me new thoughts about each of the characters, new insight into who he was and what he wanted and how the storyline should develop.

Naturally, in our society, talking to imagined people usually results in the prescription of psycho-active drugs, but when you find out, you simply say you are a novelist and it should be okay. When you put the tip on the pencil, how do you begin to write? To be writers, a mixture of interview, comment, counsel, chatter, anecdotes, analysis, story and side notes with almost 30 alumni and educators who attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop in the mid-1970s.

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