Now then, so you have decided to take the brave step and start your writing journey! First things first, don’t give up that day job! Good, that’s out of the way! Now you are truly ready to scratch that writing itch and maybe make yourself a big name…eventually! But for today where do you start? Even those of us who have been dabbling with writing for some time can still get stuck on the basics of writing whether it is fiction or non-fiction. You have kind of got an idea of what to write but need to organize the whole thing. Or perhaps you have got no idea what you want to write but feel you want to write something, somehow.
Well, the first thing any self respecting writer will have is a notebook or two, one which you keep on your person and the other by your bedside or living room (maybe even beside the TV). The main thing is that you can get your thoughts down as quickly as they come to you. If you are anything like me, several thoughts will appear as if from nowhere, then they can just as easily disappear. You know that one where you have even dreamed of a really good idea for a book, or article or perhaps a song, and then by the time you have woken up you have forgotten it. This is where the notebook by the bed comes in handy, do you see what I mean now? By the time you have scrambled out of your nice warm bed to find a pen and paper that idea could well have disappeared.
You are probably going to end up with ‘several’ working notebooks, with all sorts of things in them, maybe some rough sketches also, things that only you can make sense of. Well that’s the whole point with the process of writing it’s adhoc and a little bit ‘out there’, or maybe this is just my take on it. Ask around and see how other writers do things if you don’t trust me!
So let’s fast forward some time (best to leave it an undisclosed amount of time!). So you have got down in your note book a collection of thoughts and ideas for say a short story which you wish to submit to a magazine. Basic rule of thumb is you have a beginning, a middle and an end. A little obvious I know, but you would be surprised how many new writers can ramble on and get caught up in the moment, forgetting that all writing should have structure. You know you are going to need a main character and if its a short story two to three other minor characters to move your plot or story along. A maximum of four is what is recommended. If you find your story has lots of characters and ideas, then maybe keep this for a longer piece of work, which you could submit later on to somewhere taking that length of fiction.
Did I mention getting yourself a copy of the Writer’s and Artists Yearbook, a good reference material for helping you get published? It contains everything you should need and is updated every year. But first of all you have got to have that good story.
When I first started writing I found short stories more intimidating than longer fiction because there is not a lot of scope to develop characters. But the best way to approach this is to first read lots of stories to get a grasp of the genre, and see what they are looking for to ensure your story fulfils their criteria. Put simply it’s called research. My advise would be, you can never do too much research, because the more you do, the more likely you are to get a positive outcome. Well, that’s the theory anyway!
The Importance of Character in Fiction Writing
Again, I must emphasize the most important thing when it comes to works of fiction is developing a believable CHARACTER. Character is everything. Good fiction requires a clearly defined character for a story to work well, without character you have no story. So think about what constitutes a person, not only what they look like, but also their personality, personal traits, likes, dislikes and so forth. Think of it as an extra long CV with everything on it. The more you include then the more you will know your character. This in turn should make writing that great story easier. Notice I used the word ‘great’. It would not do to write just ‘any’ story, would it!
Until next time, happy writing, S.