Nice. I wrote this bad boy out once, and didnít log in (I did, but mustíve timed out). Oh well.
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So, youíve done it! The clouds have gathered. The seas are churning. The fingers of ten people could not keep up with the speed of your mind! Your heart pounds in anticipation. Gibberish falling from your mouth as your fingers try to keep up with the pace of it all. THE MUSE IS UPON YOU! YOU, my friend, got an idea.
Thatís the start. But how to get to the end? The end result, of course, being a finished story. While creativity is the very lifeblood of what we do, structure and discipline are what sees us through to the end. I know. Those words hurt as my fingers banged em out, as much as it hurt a creative mind to read them. FRET NOT! It doesnít hurtÖ too bad.
The following is a very basic guide on how to write a story. (Notice I didnít write ďbookĒ) Iíve gathered this bunch of knowledge from the good folks on lit.org. I looked and didnít really see something like this lying around. So I figured Iíd try and whack one out. The good folks here can feel free to add or subtract as you see fit. SoÖ here we go.
Okay, youíve got an idea. Step one is to WRITE IT DOWNNNN! Not Emily Dickinson style, on a paper napkin at a bar. If you HAVE to, sure do it, just make sure once you wake up in the morning (or afternoon if it was a hellava night) you put it on the puter.
Now is time to get organized. Itís not a big process. What I did was created a folder for each work Iíve got, on my desktop. Iíve got a half a dozen various categories (op-eds, poetry, dunno) for the things I write. Create a separate folder for your new story. In it will contain your chapters, your outline, your synopsis, & your phrase-bank.
Take your idea for a story and develop it. Any ideas that pop in, write them into your phrase-bank. ButÖ first things first.
OUTLINE-OUTLINE-OUTLINE: I was once 300,000 words into a story, and hit a wall from whence I never returned. Itís still in its little folder. Sitting there all lonely and unfinished. I had the idea. I had the story. But I lost it. Why? I didnít outline it when I started it. No worries, it was a time consuming painful mistake that I aim to protect anyone else I can from. Yay you! Your outline will be the entirety of your story. Remember the plastic pages in your anatomy books in school? First was the bones, then the organs, then the muscles, then the skin? Yeah, the outline is your bones, and because you paid attention in Anatomy you know a person without bones is a heaping bag ofÖ
So, hereís your basic outline:
Chapter One: MC(Main character), time frame is introduced. Develop MC a bit, intro secondary characters.
Chapter Two: Initial dramas between characters develops. More character development as MC deals with his/her world.
Of course your outline is your reference when you work each day. This way you wonít have to obsess over every little detail of it so you can carry on a relatively ďnormalĒ life. You may even develop a little personal shorthand which is coolbeans too. This is just you getting your groove back, so embrace it Stella. You HAVE to make an outline. I canít stress how critical this is guys. Because as many thoughts as go through my head per second, much less per day, and I might not come back to write for a couple daysÖ. Youíre screwed if you donít. You can also modify your outline later on. If youíve decided, in the course of your authorship journey that the story is going to need some tweaking here and there, no worries! As our friend Bob Ross pointed out ďItís your world! If you want a happy little cloud up here to be a friend to this bird, then go ahead and make one!Ē A warning though. ALWAYS make a NEW outline. Never discarding the old one. I never ever erase anything. This is why they invented hard drives. An erased thought is usually gone forever, and that couldíve been the bit of genius that the world needed, and that bought you the hut on Maui with the 200 acre ranch.
Now that your outline is done you can bang out the story. Youíll probably find during the course of writing it you come across mood swings. Sometimes thereís infinite joy, where your fingers literally fly across the plastic buttons of your keyboardÖ other times youíll hate having started this damnable thing!!! You may also find that your story is going to HAVE to be quite a bit longer than youíd intended. My process is to write on day one, edit on the following day. I NEVER read what I write, while in the process of writing it. I have rarely made second drafts or proofed a damned thing Iíve written. Which, Iíd imagine, had been painful for some reader-friends here when Iíd had a few too many, yelled ďDONE!!!Ē and hit enter. Lol Anyways, on day one I just let it flow, and if a chapter gets done awesome! Chapters are usually complete thoughts of a story. Kind of like paragraphs are bits of X, then you HAVE to start a new paragraph when you start talking about Y. Same same with chapters. Then againÖ it is your world. So just let it flow in the creative day one. Day two is when you get to be a prick to yourself. Read your work out loud as though to an audience, because thatís who (in the end) youíre writing this for. You want ďthemĒ to see the brilliance of the thought that you were fortunate enough to be blessed with right!? Right, so letís get back to work.
PHRASE-BANK- This is a folder within your story folder. This contains the little nuggets of greatness. Phrases such as ďIt was the best of times, it was the worst of timesĒ. Little ideas of a twist on your plot. Anything really that involves your story that comes into your head throughout a given day. I suggest taking with you a small notepad, if you donít already, wherever you go, because you NEVER know when itís going to hit you. I use the phrase-bank during my editing days to see if thereís anything I can stick in. I check spelling, phrase usage, etc etc during those days. I also NEVER erase an idea, even after Iím done with a story. An idea might lead to another story or a different version of the story etc etcÖ thereís too many possibilities of greatness there, so I donít mess with it.
SYNOPSIS- I had trouble with this. I googled it, but never grasped the concept. I called my mentor and he explained it to me. In short, itís a blurb. Itís the stuff on the back of the book, or the inside cover of the dust jacket. Okay, but what is it? Well, the synopsis is going to sell your story to an agent, then to a publishing house, then to a reader. Each person along the way might be turned on or off based on your synopsis. So it canít suck, but then again weíre dealing with genius so I wonít suck right? Wrong. Many a creative person didnít sell a damned thing while they were alive, only to be considered masters and geniuses a couple hundred years later. Not saying their synopsis sucked or their skills (obviously) just bear in mind that the presentation of your story is almost as important as the story itself! So Mr. Mentor tells me that your story is a can of soup. What can you tell someone about that soup to make them buy it? Itís warm itís rich and creamy? What? Your synopsis isnít a Greek hero of legend, just a blurb. So donít get intimidated, but be very aware of the power of a good synopsis. Kind of like a very dangerous animal. Treat it with respect and caution and you can throw a saddle on itsí back.
AnnndÖ. I think that about does it. Thereís a bunch of resources on here about publishing, self publishing etc. Iíd also come across a bit of news. That the royalties average for an Ebook is something like 30-40%. NEVER offer to publish a THING while selling yourself short. But thatís another article reserved for a much more experience author than I.
Hope you enjoyed, and as my mentor tells me ďkeep writingĒ