Writing 101- Oh God, What do I Write?

A funny thing happens when a brand new author sits down to write for the first time. I don’t mean the notes you might have jotted down in your spare time or that scribble of research you managed to garner from google. I mean that moment that you sit down at your computer and are ready to tickle your keyboard with the next great literary work of all time.

You freeze.

Okay, maybe you don’t. You’re perfect and awesome and wonderful. I, however, did. I remember it quite vividly. It was nighttime. I had nothing absolutely pressing to do and I thought to myself “You know what…I could totally be writing. Let’s do that.”

So I opened up my word program of choice and just…stared at the screen for a while. My mind, which I had always thought to be full of story ideas and great characters, and moments both amusing and heart tugging…went totally and completely blank.

So I did what any modern budding writer would do. I went to google. I typed in a few choice search words and voila. Nothing really. I found a few articles about the best opening lines of literature of all time. I found out that a lot of people place a lot of pressure on the first few lines-few pages of a novel to grab (and keep) their attention.

While time wasting and informative the articles weren’t really covering what it was I was having a problem with. I knew I wanted to write. I didn’t know WHAT I wanted to write.

I had a few scenes and a couple characters floating around in my head. I had an interest in nearly every genre out there. I was just brimming with ideas yet every time I sat down to write I could really…you know…write. So I did the next best thing. I read.

I stumbled across a series that intrigued me and after getting to the end of it researched what else that they had written. It was while perusing the authors page that I discovered a quote:

“Write the book you want to read.”

It was such a simple phrase. But, for me, something clicked. I rolled over and began to think about all the times I had read a book and gone “I really wish that -insert plot point/character/idea here- had happened.” I began to write things down.

I started to imagine what might be my perfect book. Well I like writing female characters. It’s not just because I, myself, am a woman but because I like reading about women more than I like reading about men. Alright…so there was one box checked.

Main Character: Female

Well that’s all well and good…but what else? I have the very miniUmum of a character forming and at this point I could write in appropriate adverbs but that wasn’t particularly entertaining. What else did I need to do?

Well I needed a genre. It’s not much good to have a character and nothing to do with her. So did I want to write romance? Action/Adventure? Historical fiction? Fantasy/Sci-fi?

Uuuuuhhh. Maybe? I mean I like all of those. But were they what I really loved? time for more soul searching. And by soul I mean bookshelf. I didn’t just look at the authors that I purchased the most of. I looked at the spines with the most cracks. The books that always ended up on the top shelf.

I plucked ideas from each of those and shook them around in my mental mason jar and made my own thing. Paranormal Fantasy Alternate History. Which is a mouthful way of saying “I wanna see orcs in jeans and Dragons in WWII.”

Next came world building, themes, character creation….but that’s totally another post.

What the point I’m trying to make is…write the book that you want to read. The rest is easy.

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