I am often asked about the mechanics of writing by new authors. These questions usually come from writers I am mentoring; on several occasions I’ve been asked profound questions by middle school students who are also interested in the art of writing. And sometimes my answers surprise me in that I actually sound like I know what I’m doing. (LOL) Since I’ve been writing in some form since childhood, but professionally since 2004, I guess I’ve put enough time into my craft to answer questions.
This week I was asked the following question: I am stuck on what to write for my next chapters. Would you please give me some ideas? I want to finish my novel this year.
After giving this question much thought, here is how I responded:
Trying to decide what to write about is a difficult thing. Many new authors don’t like the idea of an outline for your book or story but sometimes it is necessary. Keep in mind that outlines aren’t rigid and can change as your story dictates.
Take a look at what you’ve written so far. Do you have any idea, based on what you have, how you ultimately want the story to end? If yes, then write that down. Now see what steps your story needs to cover to reach your story ending.
Many authors will have an ending to their story before they have anything else.
Sometimes, it helps to take single events and write about each one as a short story and then link those together to create a book. You have the ideas in your head, you simply need to sit quietly and think. Step by step, going from the beginning of your book (what you’ve written) to the end that you envision.
For example, if I want to write a story about an old lady crossing the street I could begin by having the woman approach the crosswalk. She knows where she wants to go (across the street), but how is she going to get there? Is there too much traffic? Is she afraid? Or does she boldly step into the traffic? Does she seek help from a passerby? The middle chapters would be about how she crosses the street and the emotions she feels as she does so. The end of the story is her actually getting to the other side of the street. This example is just a simplification of every story. Beginning, middle steps, and then the conclusion.
So take some time, sit quietly without distraction (tv, cell phone, computer, or even other people), and look within yourself. You’ll find the ideas are there just waiting to be discovered.