Where and when to begin

Writing a book is difficult, but starting one is another mountain to climb. If you’re an author and have never experienced the block of writing the first words, then your either abnormal or you need to revise your story. But it’s not only the first words that make your head ache, it’s also when to begin.

I have been working on my book “The Age Beneath The Veil” for perhaps over a good five years now (that’s eons for a sixteen-year-old) and I started the first page three years back, if only I had waited till my vocabulary was at least improved and a good plot all worked out with plot holes history. The result if starting too early because of the excitement and impatience to get started, I ended up coming to a halt in writing and began the long years of revising, it pains me to think of how long I was rereading my work and writing it anew, how I cringed over it.

I began too early, don’t make that mistake, here’s some advice for beginners, I hope it helps you if you need more help or suggestions on what to post, please comment!

Begin when it’s finished

That’s correct, don’t start till you have a plot all ready before you and waiting to get started. Hold back the terrible urge to start upon a fragment of your story! You will regret it, as did I. If you plan on writing a series of novels, don’t begin until you have each book planned, even if it’s a basic outline. Links and hints to the sequel book that a reader will notice after having read the second, make it more interesting, you don’t want to end your first book with a halt that suggests the end of the series, if you do it will end up like Despicable Me, planned to only make one and when it becomes popular, chuck a whole lot of cheap sequels to churn the guts of viewers.

A basic outline

To begin, you must have one, so here are a few of the many ideas for what you might need:

  1. A character, with every description you can think of. If your eyes could speak, what would they say? Their personality should be real, have them weaknesses like any being.
  2. An obstacle, it could be a villain, something that blocks the paths of our hero. It could be an illness they need to fight, or literally a huge boulder in the middle of the road.
  3. Have the times of each event written down, this helps when your characters mention a date that happened further back and also makes it harder for plot holes to appear.
  4. One or more secondary characters, this adds more dialogue and makes the book less dull and far more real.
  5. Who, what, when why and how, consider these, if you can explain each one, that’s good. If not, think about the questions.
  6. Arc, the character must be changed slightly by the end of the book, whether for good or bad.
  7. What is the series about? What is the genre? As an example, my book is based on the lives of those who are striving to survive in an era they know not whether they could all come out alive with darkness and evil dominating the world.
  8. Narrative, first person, third person, what point of view are you telling it from?
  9. A mystery, have one, it’s better.
  10. Conflict, ever good book has it.
  11. A secret, something only the characters and you will ever know.
  12. Have places and settings written down.

The first words

Here’s a list of (number) prompts to trigger that mind with an example:

  1. DISASTER: start with something exciting, it grabs your audience. ‘Holding her ears, Olga tried hard to blot out the sound of shrieking as she fled the scene.’
  2. DIALOGUE: have someone talking to another. “I can’t go back on my promise Lara, not even for you.”
  3. DEATH: the dying last words of someone or the tears of a relative. ‘Her hands shook as she leant down over the bloody body of whom she once called “Father”.’
  4. A FEELING: if someone stood in a field and breathed in the fresh air, it might be  put into words such as, ‘Sweet and fragrant, Peter smelled the fresh air and was reminded of sugar tarts as he sat upon the hill with dreamy thoughts, it was then that he came to like a bullet and realised he’d left the desert in the oven.’
  5. THROUGH THE EYES OF ANOTHER: look through your characters eyes, what do they see? ‘Glittering like fading diamonds, the stars had never seemed so sad and melancholy to Ronald.’
  6. FIST FIGHT: not that it has to be with fists, but a fight, either verbally or physically, is another idea. ‘Georgie brought her fists upon her sibling with as much force as her tired arms could throw, fire flamed like the devil in her eyes.’
  7. A PARTY: you could start with this and then make something unexpected happen. ‘If there were any more balloons filling the dining room, the guests would have suffocated. Honey felt her mother’s obsession of balloons was becoming out of hand.’
  8. FOOD: eating? Why not? ‘The boy looked as if he was about to start a stand-up comedy as he scoffed scones into his hungry mouth, but Westley wasn’t going to laugh at him now, he knew it was the last thing the boy needed.’
  9. CRIME: two burglars planning their next night out perhaps? ‘Money was pulled from the pockets of the young burglar, constable Jennings was not impressed with his niece’s behavior.’
  10. LOVE: not an idea I like to take on, but for some, it works. ‘Jack couldn’t pull his eyes off Patricia’s, they glimmered like dew drops and he was overcome by that irresistible force many fall for; love.’
  11. WEATHER: give the report. ‘Wet, soggy and misty are only a few words of the English language that could describe that morning
  12. APPLAUSE: have the character in a position where they are being praised, maybe they won a prize for tennis or something? ‘Andrea felt more than proud of herself as she stood among the crowds of people clapping and cheering. “Andrea!” Called a voice and it all disappeared.”
  13. WHY?: have them thinking of the terrible thing that just happened, perhaps they’re crying over it. ‘She knew nothing anymore, what point was life when it was full of nothing but misery? Sitting with her head between her knees mumbling “Why me?” Repeatably, Catherine cared nothing about the many passersby that glared at her with curiosity.’
  14. MAGIC: I don’t particularly like that word, but as the Hobbits also had no word for “good magic”, so also have we nothing for such things. ‘Sparkling about his fingers, the necromancer glared down at the world about wishing he could muster enough dark arts to put the world through the misery he was in.’
  15. A PHONE CALL: have foreboding news, something. ‘Patty curled up in the dark corner of the room with the sound of the telephone ringing loud. They were calling again, perhaps this was the last call before they came for her. No child had ever been through such terrors as Patricia, not ever,’
  16. TOILET PAPER: OK odd, but you never know? ‘Laurence stared blankly at the cardboard roll, not one piece of toilet paper was left. Why did he always have to be the one with the bad luck? Even the roll was going against him.’
  17. RUNNING: from what? You decide. ‘If Harold could run, he would have gone on so to the ends of the earth. But how could a lame boy run from his own legs? Why did he have to be there as the car came speeding around the corner?’

I hope these helped, need more? Just say!

~M.B.K.Zakanj

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