How To Start a Book

Simply, you start writing. You carve out the time in your busy schedule, because we make time for the things that are most important to us. You actually sit down and open a document to work on whether it’s a piece you already have written or a fresh, blank page. Then you think about what you want to write.

Often our Doubt Ninjas come out in full force when we’re this far along. It’s the easiest thing to simply ‘x’ out and go on about our other tasks. In fact, our thoughts usually turn that direction after experiencing Resistance. Run into a wall. What do you do next? Our mind presents options with more fun and excitement, and we go back the way we came. The more we hit the wall and let it defeat us, the harder it is to face it the next time, until eventually we forgo it entirely, ignoring it, pretending it doesn’t exist.

Your blank page is a wall that you have to figure out how to climb over. If you really want to get over that wall, you have to make an effort. You need tools, or the skill/know how: a rope, a running start to parkour up, hand and footholds.

Just write. Put one word down and then another. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Focus the energy and flow of your thoughts on what you want to say. Then begin typing (yes, even in the roughest outline) the things you want to get out. What comes to mind first when you think of your novel? Images? Characters? Write your thoughts and feelings about it.

  • Ask yourself pointed questions like an interview about the why and how behind your story idea, the characters, the setting, plot, etc. This is a great way to understand different aspects of your writing to better portray that in your novel. A lot of this will turn into notes that will guide you later on in the narrative. The easiest, simplest way take this giant mountain you’re trying to climb and break the journey into steps. It’s going to take time to get it all down. Don’t let that discourage you. Just focus on one small thing at a time. Pointed questions help you take one aspect at a time and magnify it.

  • Profile your characters. Write everything you know about them. Little tidbits like snapshots of their personality and behaviors. (We’ll go into this more in depth later.) Often profiling can spur little clips of scenes that you want to write down, and it’s ok to write those first.

  • Identify your theme. The little string of knowledge that runs throughout your story, and that your readers should understand by the end of the book. What are you writing about specifically, and why does that matter? What does it mean to you? What does it say about your current situation or struggles? What do you want your readers to gain? Why would they be better off by reading your book?

  • World-Build. We’ll touch on this one later, but it is a great place to start getting words on a page. Are there different things in your book’s world that the reader needs to be aware of? Write those down.

  • Track your plot. Where does it begin? Where does it lead? Where does the story end? Begin outlining the chain of events. Diving in like this can also spur little scenes or images that you have to get down. Having a direction is a great place to start.

The main idea is that you need to write. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be rushed. Just begin by getting words down.

Admittedly, I get a little overpowered by the responsibility, the sheer immensity of the endless possibilities, and my own shortcomings which make me very unequal to the task. It’s daunting. It’s also exciting and exhilarating, because of the sheer immensity of the endless possibilities. It’s absolutely incredible to imagine what fantastic adventures you can share, the new things you can present to the world. Not being equal to the task is actually a good thing, because it challenges you. It forces you to not take writing so lightly and to grow into the author your book needs.

So, how do you start a book?

With a single idea, image, word, thought. Then you put your fingers on the keys, or a pencil/pen to paper, and you write.

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