Anyone can write. Just like anyone can sing, anyone can act and anyone can dance. Whether they do it well or not is truly a matter of interpretation. But can anybody “create”? I believe they can. However, I also feel it takes proper instruction, skill, commitment and the determination to follow the creation through to its completion. Some of the common sayings I hear all the time is “I used to write. I just can’t find the time. I have a good story, but I can never finish it.”
*pats on back* It’s okay. Writing a book isn’t something that can be done in a night or a fortnight. The book I’m working on right now, I started writing over two years ago. Writing a book is a project, the same as building a car by yourself or planting a garden. You have to tend to it and help it grow.
Thus, I’ve written this little manual to help you out. This is the process I use to write fictional books and I’m only ending the steps with the completion of the first draft. Keep in mind that this process may not work for everyone, but it’s the seamless flow that’s worked for me since I graduated from film school. To my credit, I have thirteen completed works on Amazon.
Step 1. The Premise – The premise is the general concept or idea of what your story is about. It’s that “what if” question that’s found while brainstorming. Think of that summary that’s found on the back of a DVDs. The length of it can vary from writer to writer. It can be one or two sentences or it can be a whole paragraph. Personally it takes me about 2-3 pages because my stories are always complex with multiple perspectives wrapped into one. Hang on, let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. For instance in the “Ghost of Cloud Beaudry”.
Cloud Beaudry promising young law graduate with aspirations of becoming a successful defense attorney. On the surface, he looks like a bright, respectful and virtuous young man. Under the surface, he’s cursed and tormented by the sights and sounds of dead killers and their victims. When his single promiscuous mother is murdered with the local sheriffs reluctant to do anything about it, Cloud strikes up an unlikely partnership with spiteful young ghost who was murdered by her sorority sisters fifty years earlier. Together they solve a string of mysteries and use the paranormal to get back at the unrepentant.”
When you write you’re premise, I’d try to get down as much as possible, as much as you can remember and want to put in your story. Don’t worry about completing a beginning, middle or an end. Don’t even worry about it making sense yet. As long as you have a conflict and a resolution in mind, as long as you have a character who wants to achieve something or overcome some obstacle, write that down.
Think of it like the seed. This is the starting point by which your story will eventually grow. I don’t focus on character names or even the character’s backstory yet. This is just the part where I talk about what’s happening and why is it happening? What is it that the main character wants to achieve and what’s stopping them?
Step. 2 – The Inspiration – After jotting down the premise, I always like to make sure I write down what has happened to me in my life that sparked the idea of the story. It’s not like I’m just laying in bed and a story just comes to me. There’s always something I learn, or something that’s entered my world that stimulates my imagination. Writing the inspiration down is important because very often, I’ll be in the middle of writing a book when a new premise comes to me. I can’t just abort the book I’m writing to start a new one. So I write down the premise and what inspired me to come up with the premise.
Thus, when I’m finished with a book, I already have my next project lined up. As time passes, you change, improve, grow more mature, thus your mindset and way of thinking won’t likely stay the same. So reading what inspired you to come up with the story can bring you back in time and refuel your imagination for the story. It’s also good for if you’re working on a project and you’re a six-months to a year into it…and you find yourself losing sight of the original intent, or direction of your story.
Examples of inspiration can come from an enlightening debate or argument that you had with some one. It could come from a new study or article you read. It may be an escape from a painful experience, or an entertaining a new movie or TV show. Then there’s music. New music is always a good imagination churner. I can’t tell you how many battles I’ve seen when I listen to metal music. I know I can’t be the only one who dreams of movie trailers to a songs of any genre.
For instance with the “Ghost of Cloud Beaudry,” I was inspired to write it after I read an article about the top ten most haunted college campus in America. UGA of Athens, Georgia was one of them. My main character was inspired by the intellect and misanthropic views of “Light Yagami” of the “Death Note” series. And of course, there was a girl who was my object of affection at the time. If I ever forget (I won’t with this story) I can easily re-read the ghost article or watch me some “Death Note”.
After I read the article about haunted campuses somehow I ended up wandering around this giant building that I was working in at night. In some of the hallways, the lights were off so my mind started to toy with me a bit. Was that a shadow? Did I just see another face by mine in the reflection of that window? Am I scared? Why am I scared? They’re spirits while I’m a solid tangible being. That’s when it hit me. There are so many stories and movies about people running scared from ghosts. What if I wrote a story about a human who not only wasn’t afraid of ghost, but he commanded them to do his bidding. Viola!