How Do You Get Started?

Just as some painters are daunted by that blank canvas or sheet of paper, we writers can be daunted staring at a blank sheet of paper or the blank screen on our laptop, electronic tablet, or even our cell phone. Never fear. You can take that first step toward writing out your story, poem, article, novel, etc.

Get an Idea

You don’t start writing by saying, “I’m going to write a novel.” Instead, you get an idea, such as “Billy killed Johnny and spent the rest of his life trying to escape justice.” Of course, now the hard work begins.

Ask Questions

You have a host of questions to answer for the reader:

  • Who is Billy?
  • Who is Johnny?
  • How did Billy kill Johnny?
  • Why did Billy kill Johnny?
  • Where and when did Billy kill Johnny?
  • Who is impacted by this killing?
  • Who is investigating this killing?
  • How does Billy keep one step ahead of the investigator?
  • How does it all end?

Come Up With Answers

Then, sketch out your answers to the above questions. You don’t need to get too detailed here. Keep these answers handy as you begin to write. Again, don’t lock yourself into the goal of writing a novel. This could end up being a novella or a short story.

Think Up an Opening

And then, start with an intriguing opening. The trend these days is to give readers a bit of a jolt in the first paragraph or two. You don’t need to do this, but you can hint at the jolt that is to come. In Hammil Valley Rising, my first paragraph ends with:

“It was a beautiful morning. But that sense of beauty can be misleading on a ranch.”

A rather tame opening paragraph tells of trouble ahead.

Detail Those Answers

From here you can go on to work in those answers above, telling about Billy and Johnny before the killing or starting with the killing and working in their details later. In fact, what details and how extensive they are will be some tough decisions. You’ll also want some idea of the overall tone (lighthearted, humorous, darkly serious, etc.) you intend.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of writing courses out there that will tell you to follow this or that pattern. They’re fine for starting out, but sooner or later, like a young bird in the nest, you’ll have to stretch your own wings and fly. For years I studied art, taking classes in watercolor, drawing, oil painting, color theory, and even hand lettering. Eventually, I had to use what I had learned to create my own art in my own style. The same was true of my studies in English literature. Over the years, I had to develop my own style. Time for you to develop yours.

Hope you found this helpful and have been inspired to start writing!

Please check out my WIPs. And thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: I get no compensation for links in this post or on my site to other sites and/or products.


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