Writing Tip: Starting a New Story – where to Begin?

Posted on 04. Jan, 2011 by in Blog, Writing Tips

Hello, and welcome to the first in a series of free tips called ‘Writing Short in a Digital World’ – advice for writers who want to publish, build a following and ultimately sell their short work (fiction, non-fiction, memoirs or essays) to readers on the move; e-Readers, apps, and on the Web.

First of all, find yourself a deadline. A deadline focuses the subconscious mind beautifully. Submit to eChook – we’re open to submissions for our second multi-author app, ‘Stories of Love’, deadline January 31st, 2011. We pay up to $100 for 750 – 2,000 words for fiction or non-fiction. See our Submissions page for more details. To see the various types of life-affirming endings we like, buy and read ‘London Road: Linked Stories’ on eChook’s home page, or in iTunes, or on your phone or iPad in the App Store.

Secondly, open a file on your computer or title a page in your notebook and call it something like, ‘Love’. You can give it a better title later on when you see what you’ve got. Jot down a few notes on whatever comes comes to mind when you think about love. Don’t edit yourself here, just write everything that comes to mind and, if nothing much comes to mind, write yourself a series of questions. Tomorrow, when you wake up, you’ll find some answers have materialized.

Here’s my example: Love. Unrequited. Or non-existent. Heart broken, bruised. Given up, love too difficult.

Then I fish about, looking for more story: Do I want a character who’s not me or will this piece be (semi) autobiographical? Don’t know yet. Who might this woman be? How old? What does she want? What broke, or bruised, her and shut her down? Where does she live? (When we write about somewhere we love – usually England for me – it scratches an itch, somehow, and readers feel it, too.)

OK. So now, my laptop is sitting open on top of the kitchen counter. The file, saved as ‘Love Story’, is open so I can add notes whenever they occur to me. Every time I pass by, I’ll know I’ve got questions to answer. At this moment, I haven’t got a clue; no character, no setting. But I’ve been writing under deadline for decades and know what to do when my creative mind is shut down – get the ideas bubbling and the story flowing.

Tomorrow’s tip: Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble – Get the Story Flowing.

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