Over the weekend, I chatted with a writer who’s written several nonfiction books, and wants to write a novel.
He’s used to doing lots of research, coming up with ideas, testing the ideas, and writing. But he’s procrastinating on his fiction.
My advice? Start writing. Fill the computer screen with words.
As I said in this post on writing what you don’t know:
Please take this to heart: all writing is discovery.
Let’s say you want to write a thriller about a hit man (or a hit woman.) This will be a real challenge for you if you’re anything like me, and are squeamish about using snail bait, or swatting a spider.
Nevertheless, if I had a great idea for a book, and the main character happened to kill people for a living, I could write it. And so could you.
Here’s why. Fiction is all about emotion. You’ve had every emotion everyone else has had. You’ve been angry — and you’ve gone beyond anger to primal rage. Neither feeling is comfortable. You may want to tap into that when you’re writing about your hit person. Not for the killer, but for the person who’s hired him.
I suggested that he tell himself his story first.
Start with “Once upon a time…”
Once upon a time, a man called Chris lived with his wife, Pamela, and their little boy, Jesse. Chris loved his wife, and was shocked when one day, someone at work told him that his wife was having an affair.
At first, Chris didn’t believe it. Then, he decided to…
See how it works?
Just pretend that you’re telling someone a story. I like to record these musings into Dragon Dictate. After ten or 20 minutes, I’ve got the bones of a story.
This is a painless way of getting the kernel of a story. Just start with a couple of characters, and a situation. Once you’ve got that, you can either outline your scenes, or you can start writing. I tend to just start writing; I create an outline once I’ve got around 10,000 words. Do what feels right to you.