Lets face it, writing is painstaking. The process of starting alone can be a great challenge. As if this isn't enough, it's revisions, after revisions until the finished product. The fun in it all is seeing the final result, it's not the work.
One of the most popular questions asked by new writers is "How do I start?"
1. DECIDE THE GENRE OF YOUR BOOK
Regardless of whether you would like to write a fiction, or nonfiction book, it's best that you narrow down the particular genre of interest. This way from the start you've created somewhat of a road map, and boundaries to your work. Do research on the subject matter, because the more you know about the subject the more you can impart into the story-line. I'm as much of a reader, as a writer, and there's nothing more dis-interesting about a book, than the subject matter taking you all over the place. All books should possess a reason, and story to them, which ties together the beginning to ending.
2. NARROW DOWN THE FOCUS OF YOUR BOOK
Let's say you decide to write a love story. You must then decide on the main angle of the story which is based around the protagonist. Who is he/or she? What do they desire? What obstacle stands in their way to obtain their desires? In the end will they get what they want? It's in not understanding the basis of character and story development which overwhelms many. Understandably, this is one of the main reasons for writers block.Â Writing is like building a house. There's a process, and all of the work is done piece by piece. Develop a character assessment of the main character first. Who is the story about? How old are they, how do they look, what unique physical features do they possess, mannerism, habits, likes, dislikes, and their purpose. Once this is completed you'll have an idea about some of the supporting characters. Then develop a character assessment of each. But here there's no need to be as detailed, because remember they solely exist to support the idea of the protagonist (main character.)
For a nonfiction book, after you've decided on the subject matter, focus intently on narrowing down what it is you intend for the reader to learn, and experience through the work. It's a great idea create to an outline by composing chapters, as a foundation to begin. From here research each area topic. When you develop a vast awareness about a topic, you're empowered to be able to communicate ideas more freely. Remember that even a nonfiction book tells a story, and it has a beginning, middle, and end to it. Keeping this in mind will help you with developing each chapter.
3. WRITE A LONG FORM SYNOPSIS
What is a long form synopsis? I didn't have a clue, until I attended a screenwriting workshop at Gothams Writers, NYC. Most book synopsis are 2-3 paragraphs. A long form synopsis (screenplay synopsis) usually takes up one complete page, and is sometimes longer. Your synopsis should contain all the important elements of the story; characters, story-line, major events, and chronicles the story from beginning to end. This in-turn will keep you on track in regards to where to go with the stories events. All of this may seem confusing for someone who has never done it before. So below is the synopsis for One Good Man, one of my novels. While attending the screenplay workshop, I wrote the synopsis, and started the treatment. But didn't finish the script. Seven years later I revisited the synopsis, and decided to write the novel.
One Good Man
A drama, which takes place in the suburbs of Long Island, NY about a 19yr old African American couplewho've been dating for 3 mos. Cierra finds out she is pregnant and goes to James home to tell him. He becomes irate, begs and scolds her to get an abortion because they both go to college and work. She refuses. He at one point tells her the baby isn't his. She then smacks him, walks out the bedroom, out the front door and home to tell her mother (Mrs. Eleanor Brown). James mother sees her storm out the front door without saying bye, which isn't like her. She goes to James room, asks him what happened. He tells her everything. She is appalled, and tells him he needs to man up and handle his responsibility, whether he wants to or not. (8mo. Later) Fate takes a turn when they get into a fatal car accident (he's driving). Cierras mother and he survive, but Cierra dies in the hospital giving birth to a premature baby girl who is immediately taken to the intensive care unit. The baby is released from ICU the next day. James names her Raven, and although hesitant he decides to take her home with him.
There is a funeral for Cierra, which is very small, Mr. Sid brown, a few of Cierras friends, James and his mother. Mr. Brown doesn't speak to James who tries to confront him. Mrs. Brown being bedridden isn't able to attend. James goes to see her in the hospital and she tells him to leave, he's a murderer. James cuts down his work hours, to just the weekends, while he goes to college full-time and leaves Raven since she is free from work. James social and party life at this point is non-existent. All he does is go to work and look after Raven. He is finding it hard to get over the guilt of being the driver and sees Cierra in Raven every time he looks at her. But as days go by and he spends more time with her he begins to have a change of heart and starts to enjoy being a father. (11 mo. Later) His sense of self peace is broken one day when he receives a letter in the mailing stating, Mrs. Brown is challenging his right to custody of Cierra and she would like custody. Child Protective Service shows up a week later to investigate Ravens living conditions. James lets them know he intends to fight to maintain custody. His mother takes him the following day to obtain an attorney. He explains that James has a strong case since he's the father and the mother is deceased.
Trial begins, witnesses are called, Ms. Clinton, Cierras best friend Sheena who mentions that Cierra told her James didn't want to be a father because they were both going to college, working etc. She also mentioned speaking to him a few times since Cierra's death and how he's changed. The next day Mrs. Brown gives a heartfelt account of a mother trying to console her pregnant daughter who is scared and does not feel supported by the baby's father, and also losing Cierra. James also gives a great testimony of a young man who was scared at first, but since then has grown, changed and loves his daughter and being a parent. Everyone sheds a tear, even Mrs. Brown. The next day James attorney shows up at the house, Ms. Clinton and him are waiting in the living room with Raven. He gives them the good news about the verdict. James cries, picks Raven up out of the playpen telling her "I will never leave you!" Ms. Clinton hugs them both tightly.
4. BEGIN WRITING YOUR BOOK, AND STAY COMMITTED UNTIL FINISHED.
You did all the work of deciding the genre of your book, researching the subject matter so that you can narrow down the focus of the project, and you composed a synopsis. Now, the most important thing you can do is write the first sentence, and continue on. Every sentence, and book begins with the first word. The first paragraph and chapter should be memorable, as it sets the tone for the complete project.
Writing is no different than any other goal. Everyone has a life, and every day we must do the necessary to maintain whatever we have going on. Whether you have a family, spouse, job, or business the point is, to also find time to write. A writer writes, no matter whatever else is taking place in their lives. Books don't write themselves. This quite obvious. Yet, I want to stress the reality of self-responsibility, and the fact that your book will not get written, unless you do it. How much to write every day? Well, this is dependent upon the time you can set aside, and also your level of focus. The pace, I've become accustomed to is one chapter a day, once I begin a project.
Utilize the synopsis as your road map, and whenever you think your going somewhere where it seems a bit off point from the synopsis, Stop. At this point consider all the events within the synopsis, along with where you're now going. Consider whether it will enhance the story? If not then back track, revise and get back on track. Keep in mind that if you decide it's better to take a detour, you can always revise the synopsis. The point is to at every stage of writing, think the project through. More, and more as you direct your thoughts upon the book, the more it will become clearer in your mind.Â
The last impression I would like to leave with you is, a message I've told myself a few times "Don't be lazy, revisions are a part of the writing process.
Thank You for your time. Now, get to writing the book.
About Therone Shellman
Therone Shellman is an award winning self-published author, who has also done several motivational speaker presentations. He attended Gotham's Writers Workshop in 2006, for screenwriting.
Therone is currently shopping Race & Politics, contemporary/literary fiction novel, and the screenplay adaptions of his novels One Good Man and the two time award winning book No Love Lost.
He has been featured as a model on book covers, done many background acting gigs, and intends to do more print work, and step into principle acting roles. Therone is available for modeling, and acting roles for commercials, tv and film.
Born in Brooklyn, NY and lived in Long Island, NY most of his life. As an author, the boroughs of NYC have been his sales stopping grounds for many years. Therone now resides in Killeen TX, and is seeking to get involved with the Austin and Dallas Tx film scene in 2017.
Therone's objective is to begin where he's at. He's an award winning author of several titles as a Small Publisher, Indie Author. As of Jan 2017, he's on the prowl to find an agent to shop Race & Politics, contemporary/literary fiction manuscript to a large publisher. He's also seeking screenplay representation. The summer of 2017 he plans to package a short educational DVD project titled, Honor & Integrity, and push it the same way he sells his books. Use the profits to do a short film, and package to DVD. Move on from there.
Like this blog post? Please share it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email etc) by using social media buttons at the top of the blog. Or post to your personal blog and anywhere else you feel appropriate. Thank you.
As always, we welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the Comments section below...