Monthly Archives: January 2013

Finishing a Story

The first sentence is down and the story is moving along. This is so easy, how can anyone say that writing is hard? Then page five comes, or page ten, and the energy that carried the story to this point disappears. The easiest thing to do at this point is to stop the story and move on to something, but this is just the reason that writing is hard. The ability to stick with a story is one that will make a successful writer. Getting to page fifty or hundred will give the greatest feeling when finished, but each word might be painful. That is why it is said that writing such a difficult thing to do and people are warned away from it.

NaNoWriMo is very useful to develop that skill because it encourages you to finish the book. Once a person can write 50, 000 words in 30 days, finishing other stories are much easier. With the websites for NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, there is also others to encourage continuing with the story. When there is peer support it is easier to get the story finished. And deadlines are great motivations.

First Sentences

So, you have your story idea and you open a new word document to start writing. There is excitement going through you as you put fingers to keyboard. Then a strange thing happens. You’re mind goes blank. You have utterly no idea how to start the great story that is swelling up in your head.

This is a common problem. Getting the perfect first sentence to flow on to the page and hook your readers into never putting the story down. This sentence should be poetic, interesting, and memorable. The type of first sentence that people will quote centuries down the road. And if you can write that on your first draft you are doing better than the rest of us.

To combat the mind going blank the first thing you should do is relax. You will not come up with that perfect sentence in the first draft unless it was your idea to begin with. Let yourself make mistakes. Just write down your first thought and go from there. Don’t expect that the first draft will be perfect, because rewriting and revising are what makes a story perfect.

Sometimes you can’t even start at the beginning of the story. Think about your idea for a few minutes. Where is it in the story? Do you know what the ending is, but not quite sure how it started? Then write the section at the end and work your way to the beginning. Nothing says you have to write it in order.

So, relax and think about it. You aren’t taking a test, you have the time and resources to write the story.

Inspiration and the Idea

When writing the first thing you need it an idea. It is very hard to write without one, not impossible but very hard. I usually start with a character and then listen to them tell me about their life. Sometimes I start with a scene that appeared in my head, but it has to be a very strong scene. Other people start with a line, or a story idea. Something comes to mind and the story comes from that. This thing can be referred to as a muse.

A muse is very hard to pin down and can disappear without warning. It is also very hard to find when you want it. There are a lot of quotes out there about inspiration and muses. The one I best remember is by Jack London. He said “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Some people sit and wait for the muse to show up, but I find that the muse shows up when I am sitting there writing. It is far more likely to show up when it isn’t expected.

Everyone needs to find their own way of coming up with ideas for stories and inviting the muse to come around. Some people claim that they can only write when they have inspiration. I just sit down and start writing. The first thousand words in a day are always the hardest anyway.