Starting off the top, this is going to be a generic list of five steps that are capable of helping everyone find the right idea in order to begin writing. If you would like to see a longer list or have suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments below.
So, you want to write a book. It’s a daunting task and by deciding you want to make the dedication to this journey, congratulations! You’ve overcome the first step.
Here is the short list we’ll briefly be going over in this article because let’s face it. With work and family, who has time to sit down and read a term paper?
- Browsing, see what everyone else is writing
- Your Opinion on topics
- What could be done better
- Get out and experience to have something to review
Inspiration can be found literally everywhere. You don’t have to leave your house to find it. It can be a video game, a colorful historical item you come across that’s ridiculously over-priced on eBay, the lizard getting mercilessly chased by your graceless cat, etc. The key to inspiration is thinking outside of the box. Let your mind wander and you’ll be amazed to see what you come up with.
Read. The only way you’re going to know what to expect is if you browse other titles in the genre you are aiming for. Pay close attention to how they introduce each element in every book. There is normally what’s called a “best-selling chemistry batch.” Basically, there is a pattern the story follows that draws readers in, giving them what they want and keeping them hooked. This is very useful to learn early on.
Everyone has their own opinion about everything. Mildly use these topics to help form your writing and give it purpose. Base your character’s goals or beliefs off of some of your own to help create a strong, believable character. You won’t need to base them off yourself or others once you get in the practice of doing it, but sometimes its unavoidable.
Back to the opinions. When reading other books, there will be always a few things you’ll think could have been done better. Whether it’s introducing the villain earlier on, using a different POV, altering the ending for a better effect, etc. Use these ideas and opinions to improve your own writing and to keep yourself from making the same mistakes. This will help you to stay away from the Mary Sues and status quo everyone at the time is following. You’ll stand out among the crowd.
Taking all of the above into consideration, you’ll need to get out of the house and explore your environment. Understand how the layout of your city is planned and research how it works. Look at the layouts of other cities as well for reference, whether modern-day or throughout history. This will help better visualize the setting for your characters. While out and about, you’ll also be experiencing the environment around you. The weather, smells, sights, sounds. My favorite is people watching and seeing how they interact with each other. They are in their natural habitat. Go to local markets, restaurants, anywhere people gather. This will help give an idea of how people interact in the cities you write, no matter the time period.
No matter what, you’ll need to do research at some point to do a complete world-building. My personal preference is coming up with the story itself first and then building outwards as the story progresses. World-building is an extensive process and you always end up putting too much work in, creating information that’s never needed or mentioned within the books. Save yourself the time and don’t overdo any of these steps. As you go along and need to fill in more, take the time then to research and create what you need to continue on.
Always double-check your entire work. Keep notes of plots, subplots, location details, character details, etc. as you go along because by keeping track early, you won’t have to read back through to find a character’s appearance or which location is a port city, for example.