Writing tags

How do I Start?

Whoo! I’m running a little late today!

I wanted to address a question I often see in my writing groups… “I have a story in my head I just don’t know where to start,” or “I don’t know how to put my story on paper. Help!”

There comes the point when you’ve been thinking about your story for so long that you have a million things going on in your head and you can’t possibly keep them straight. When this happens, you need to get your thoughts down on paper. Once you have all the thoughts out that are bouncing off the edges of your brain, then your mind will be clear to do fun things like plot and character build.

I know the easiest way for me to brainstorm is to start writing a scene I already expect to happen. For example, maybe I’ve figured out the climax. I will write up the scene and brainstorm from there, adding bits and pieces until I have a decent guideline to follow. This scene will change by the end of the story and may not even end up in the book, but it’s a perfect place to start because you’re confident in it. I am also able to get in touch with my characters and understand who they want to be.

So where to start?

I guess you have to figure out if you’re a pantser, plotter or somewhere in between.

Definition time

  • Pantser: Someone who writes by the seat of their pants. They just go where ever the story/characters take them.
  •  Plotter: Someone who plans every little detail out before putting one word on paper.

For me, I’m somewhere in between. I get a general outline of where my story needs to go, but I leave it up to my characters to figure out how they are going to get there. This mixed method has worked wonderfully for me so far. I don’t think I could be strictly one or the other. I feel more creative when I’m writing, but I need to have definitive checkpoints.

When I notice I’m having trouble writing a scene, it’s usually because I need more coffee… and also because I haven’t planned it enough. When this happens, I take a moment to plan the scene out in more detail.

For example, in the last scene I wrote, I knew that Gabby and Charley had to get into Victor’s office. However, I also knew they couldn’t just walk in and get what they needed. I had to spend some time brainstorming to figure out a creative way that they could infiltrate the office before I was able to write anything for the scene. I was able to link the scene back to something that happened earlier in the story, so that was an added benefit of planning ahead.

However, my strategy is not the greatest. The beginning of my manuscript is all going to have to be rewritten. Not only because it’s the first draft but because I changed some of the minor plot lines further into the story and I’m a firm believer of not going back to edit. Big things like, Charley decided she wanted a different character to be a love interest than one that I had originally planned for her. I’m also, strengthening another plotline and I am going to have to add a ton of scenes for that. (Holy cow, that’s going to be a lot of work!) Don’t get me wrong I love where my story is now, but I am going to spend a lot more time editing than a plotter.

My plan is to make a cork board outline to get this hot mess organized once my first draft is complete. I’ll keep you updated when I get that going.

The ultimate goal, no matter if you are a pantser or plotter, is to get yourself writing. Figure what works for you and start.

If you found these tips helpful give me a like below, it really helps me out. Please, comment below if you have any additional questions about where to start.

As always don’t forget to follow my page on the way out to keep up on the progress of my novel and any writing tips I find along the way. If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to me on my contact page or tweet me @shauna_philp, I would love to hear from you.

Happy writing.


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