Yeah, I’m still at it! Who would have thought, huh? Haha! The thing is, that I’m done with the prequel, and also the first whole chapter of my story. It’s a lot of fun writing it as an English book, rather than as a German staffel, but it’s also very hard work. I know there are a lot of posts and articles out there written by experienced writers, about how it is to actually write a book, but for anyone wanting to accomplish the same thing as me, here’s an honest first impression by an amateur writer, who is still struggling with bringing her world and characters to life.
First off, it’s very important to start the story with something interesting. I have chosen to tell what happened to the main character in a vague way, letting the reader know exactly what’s up, but not why, as that is one of the main focus points of my story; finding out why and how. The prequel is set in the past, and is only 2169 words long, which is more than enough for the reader to get interested. The first chapter is 5804 words long, which is still far from the recommended 8000 if you read up about it on the internet, but it tells the beginning of the main story, and is wrapped up nicely, though still with many lingering questions, one of them leading up to the next chapter.
A very important thing is descriptions! It’s really hard describing the images only you can see in your head, but you want for the reader to see what you are seeing. It doesn’t matter whether you describe everything with every detail you have in mind, or just for the reader to get the overall image, as long as you include the most important things for the character, object or scenery you want the reader to imagine. If you for example want to describe a sunset, just write that it’s a sunset, and maybe a little about the colors and clouds, and how far down the sun has gone behind the horizon. The reader most probably knows what a sunset looks like, and doesn’t need too many details. It’s also a very good way of letting the reader create your world in their image, instead of feeding them every single detail, which not only takes a long time to read through, but also limits their imagination. Your readers are not stupid, so don’t treat them as if they are!
Another very important thing is your characters. Describe them when the reader first meets them, but flesh them out through their personalities. A person with glasses is not automatically smart, so don’t assume your reader will think that, just because you describe your character as a bookworm wearing glasses. I find it easiest to show my characters personality, by letting him or her interact with other individuals. Also, it’s very important for them to act differently towards other characters with different personalities. No one likes everyone all the time, and even the angriest person has a soft spot for someone or something, and that’s important to keep in mind. Granted, I have only written a total of about 10 pages in Word, but I already had most of my main cast in the same room, talking and interacting with each other, and believe you me when I say, that they already act differently towards one another, depending on who they are talking to.
Help yourself with some character sheets, if you have more than just a few personalities to deal with in your story. It doesn’t have to include every like and dislike, favorite colors and food, and what have you, but just their basic personality traits. As you get more characters, update your sheets to include their relationships, and it really helps a lot. Let me use my 3 main characters so far as examples:
1. Main: Open minded, gentle, friendly, curious, accepting, hard to anger, but when you do… Expect stuff.
2. Second: Impatient, seems annoyed, eager to learn, but also eager to teach others, maybe a bit emotional.
3. Support: Welcoming, naïve, childlike, has a vast knowledge, talks formally, almost always smiling.
They all get along pretty fine, but Second’s impatience does not work very well with the easygoing nature of the others, which leads to some tension. Support can be hard to figure out due to acting like a child at times, making him someone Main pursues because of him being curious.
That’s basically their chemistry, boiled down to just a few lines. Can you imagine, just by reading this, how they can end up in both frustrating and hilarious situations? Now imagine them clashing with other personalities, one of which Second is really looking up to, but who wants to spend more time with Main… That’s what my next chapter is going to include.
Characters make your story lively, and help moving it forward. It doesn’t matter if you have many or few, as long as their interactions are interesting, and they can develop in a natural way. Let your characters guide you, and don’t guide your characters. They will be sure to know what they want to do next.
Now about choosing the right words, or writing overall, which is the hardest part. Again, it comes down to preferences when writing, but there are some things you should keep in mind when writing a story that needs to fill an entire book. The first and most important thing is to keep it consistent. Make rules for your world and your characters, and make sure they don’t unintentionally break those rules, as the reader will get confused, and see it as holes in your story, which is a major turnoff. If someone’s jacket is yellow, then keep it yellow. If they can only teleport to specific locations, then don’t make them magically teleport to unspecified locations because of convenience. Stuff like that. I’m sure you get my point.
Another good thing to keep in mind is repetition. If you repeat someone’s name too often, it comes off as weird, and as if you have no better words for that person. Use their descriptions instead of their names sometimes, for example by calling them “the young one”, “the blue haired girl”, or something as simple as “he” or “she”. It gives life to both your characters, and your writing. It also helps the reader distinguish your characters, remembering things like their hair color or age compared to each other, when you describe those aspects more often.
And one more thing about writing! As I mentioned earlier, your reader is not stupid, so don’t treat them as if they are. With that, I don’t only mean over explaining things, but also your overall writing. If you write like a 5 year old, then your reader will feel like a 5 year old. That’s over exaggerated of course, but try reading your own sentences out loud, and see if they sound correct to you. Use dictionaries when in need of synonyms, or other ways to make your text seem more elaborate and professional. This helps making your sentences more fluid and less clunky, and thus your writing is easier to read and understand.
Okay, now that I’ve got my urge to try and help other writers who are just starting out is satisfied, I’d like to share my future plans for writing this book. Maybe this will help you too, I don’t know.
LizzY has agreed to read and tear apart… I mean, read and judge every chapter as I get them done. She’s got more experience in writing than I do, and I’m sure she can spot errors and plot holes with ease, should they show up. It’s always nice getting an honest opinion from a person not involved with the writing, and I appreciate her help already!
When the book is all done, I’ll send it to my mother in law, who has agreed to read it and laugh at me… or whatever she wants to do. She reads a lot of books, mainly from the crime and horror genres by Stephen King, but also other stuff, so I’m sure she can see the humor in my story, and I can’t wait for her opinion.
It’s gonna take a lot of time, blood (okay, hopefully not), sweat (definitely!) and tears (surely!) to get that far though, so I haven’t planned much further than that. As for publishing, it will probably end up as a digital download on Amazon, but let’s see. Right now, I have no idea how long it will be, and when I will get it done. Once I have my Storenvy shop up and running, I will be able to focus more on writing, but let’s take it one step at a time, because in the end, I’m doing this for fun! Not to stress myself.
Oh, by the way, I’m thinking about also creating a guidebook for my story. The world itself is pretty basic, as some of the story plays out in our everyday human world, but there is a lot more to it than that, and I’d like to collect all important information about it in a separate book. This would also include character bios, and a lot of information not included in the main story, and maaaybe even drawings, because why not? This is just an idea though, and should it become a reality, then it’s gonna be AFTER the main story is published.
And one last note to everyone reading this, wanting to write their own story, whether it’s as a book or just for giggles; don’t tell your parents! Unless they are into what you want to write about, it’s gonna end up pretty darn awkward. I immediately regretted telling mine, and even my boyfriend said it was a stupid idea to inform them about what I’m doing. They just don’t get it, and probably never will. That’s also why I want my mother in law to be in on it instead of my own mom, because it’s a waste of time to involve her in anything I do. I love my old people, but they don’t get me at all. This is something many people feel, so think twice about telling your parents about such a project. You can reveal yourself when you’ve become a bestselling author they can be proud of, but amateur writing doesn’t seem to make parents proud, especially when it’s a story out of the ordinary.
Okay, I’m done now. You can go back to working on your own writing, or ask me questions in the comments, if I wrote something you didn’t understand, or want to know more about. Have a nice one 🙂