Getting started on a book

I’ve recently had two ‘tweets’ asking about starting a book. 

As I am in the initial stages of my second novel, I can tell you how I got started. There is a lot written about the subject, there are courses, qualifications and degrees in creative writing, but to my mind, it comes down to one important thing, the ability to tell a story. If you can, then you may well be able to complete a book.

Some writers have the story mapped out before they even start page one. They write the skeleton, then add flesh to bones, chapter by chapter. That’s how I work but, rest assured, the skeleton will change as you write. New ideas will come to you and the tale will evolve. I enjoy this process and never quite know where the adventure will take me.

It is a good idea to read a lot. Don’t just read the story, look at the style, the layout, the plot and ask yourself why popular books work. 

Getting started. First rule for me, don’t be afraid. Chances are you will not use what you write, you will not be happy with your first scribblings. But you must start that first chapter, if you spend all your time thinking how to write the perfect introduction, you will never make that all important first step.

Dont worry too much about the ending. That will evolve as you write, but do think carefully about the characters and do write down their features, personality etc. They are real and their presence in the novel must be consistent. A simple example, if your main protaganist has short brown hair, don’t have her combing her long blond locks later on in the story. Readers pick up on such things and it can spoil their enjoyment of the story.

Don’t be too concerned with the title. Do start with one, but be prepared to change it as the story develops. Wicked Game had several titles before the final draft. 

Matt J. 

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