Advice for starting writers


Hey Tommy! Nice! Writing fiction is a lot of fun, although sometimes it’s hard to keep it that way. I hesitate to give you specific advice since different techniques work for different people, and you won’t know how to tell what will be applicable to you until you’ve actually started writing. But I can say what worked for me: (1) making a routine (x time spent trying to write every y) (2) keeping a notebook with ideas (or a phone app or whatever) (3) making friends who are also writers (4) cultivating a group of people to bet-read and give me feedback (I’d be happy to read your stuff, by the way) (5) researching writing craft so I know what techniques are out there — the Writing Excuses podcast has been helpful (they mostly do scifi and fantasy though) and the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron.
Personally, I like to write outlines detailed enough that I won’t paint myself into a corner, but vague enough that writing feels like a process of discovery. Other people prefer to just start writing and then do revision after revision to iron out the problems later — still others make their outlines more and more detailed until the outline becomes a novel. You can produce a good book from anywhere on the outline/nooutline spectrum, but the question is how to have the fun possible during the process of writing.
So anyway, I start by collecting all my notes about a story and finding connections between them. In parallel, I have a basic story structure (e.g. The Hollywood Three Act Structure, but there are many, and I try to use different ones for each story) and I plug in my ideas where they fit into the structure. Then I look at the beginning of the story and the denouement and try to figure out what needs to happen between them.
I ask myself: what do I promise at the beginning of the story? What’s the most interesting way to deliver it? What’s my central message or theme? How does the theme get developed? What do I have to teach the reader in order for the denouement to make sense to them? Most importantly: how does the protagonist change from the beginning to the end? I need to make sure that each thing that happens to the protagonist (the plot of the book) makes that person change in some way.
I’m still working out the kinks in the process. But that’s where I am right now
Anyway I hope this was helpful and good luck!

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