Two: Starting Out

Two: Starting Out

A Lesson by Belator Books

How to plan and then begin writing...


Beginning your book is admittedly one of the most difficult parts about writing a lengthy piece. The best method to help spur the book along to fruition—that I have encountered as of yet-remains one of the most simple, conceptually: individual, successive chapter notes. While this concept may sound somewhat rudimentary it is invaluable as a writing tool, not only in starting the process with an informed ‘kick’ but it also aids the writer in keeping the plot on track (as far as where one wishes the story to go)... and lastly, it helps the writer remember to include all the important details and various tie-ins.

Making Your Sequential Chapter Notes:

1. Sit down. 2. Using either a blank notebook, computer word processing page, or a pad of ‘sticky’ notes, write the words “Chapter One”. 3. Under this title write out one-line details or phrases about what should be included in this chapter. If using sticky notes, use as many as you need under the chapter title to help you grasp the gist of what you want to say in that chapter. For instance, on a Chapter One note a casual observer might see phrases like ‘character introduction’, ‘background history’, ‘main character trips over a threshold and falls down stairs’, etc. Even if it is merely one detail about what’s in the chapter, write it down. 4. Turn to another page/note and continue on through each chapter in a similar fashion. Once the notes are written for each chapter you can use them as a reference or add in more notes as the writing progresses; changes are easy to make.

Personally I prefer using sticky notes, as I can re-arrange events in a different order if I so choose. Paper is usually best for this process, as computer files can be lost or accidentally deleted. A fellow writer among our acquaintance tried to be inventive one year and used a wide dry-erase board for his sequential notes; after writing laboriously for an hour, he suddenly realized that his forearm had brushed away about half it as he leaned on the board. Do bear in mind that these notes are not iron-clad; the writer is allowed to viably brush aside any feeling of chagrin if half the notes must be crumpled up and replaced. In writing my own books I've found this method especially helpful in avoiding becoming lost pursing tangents, or inadvertently creating lop-sided chapters.

Although perspective is a more important aspect of planning your book, I chose to address the issue at the end of this section in hopes that it may stay at the forefront of your mind.

Being there is no way to say this lightly, it is best to address the issue of first-person narrative straightforwardly: there is a glut of FPP (First-Person Perspective) novels being penned these days, indeed so much so that even as a book reviewer I am absurdly sick of reading them. That being said, there are some fine examples of classic literature in FPP that I adore to read, namely Robinson Crusoe, Jane Eyre, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Mrs. Mike and one of my favorite books of all time: My Family & Other Animals. If you are dead-set on FPP for your novel please, please, please read these books first. The writers of these pieces did not make the mistake of using the 'speaking-from-within-my-head-to-myself' voice in their narrative, but instead related what they saw and felt, using the five senses and telling the tales of others as they wandered through life. Some books have been pulled off as nothing more than full-bodied journal entries--Bram Stoker's Dracula--or even as compiled reports. Generally, however, the majority of good fiction is written in Third-Person Perspective (i.e. Pride & Prejudice); this is my favorite perspective to write in as the thoughts of each character can be included, and without the ridiculous habit of stating to the reader that the POV (point of view) has changed.

Second-Person perspective is most prevalent for use in guidebooks, DIY books or 'choose your own adventure' type books, however, there is a long list of "notable works" in SPP up to scrutiny at the following wikipedia page, along with links to several critical essays/articles on that particular perspective:

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Posted 7 Years Ago

This is awesome. I always get discouraged when I simply cannot begin to write. Thanks!

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Posted 7 Years Ago

Apparently that page doesn't exist anymore, but I think this is the same list?

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Posted 7 Years Ago

hmm i tried planning a story a while back it didn't really work i just tend to write and what comes up is what goes down on my pad but when i type it up i change lots of stuff

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Belator Books
Belator Books


The Styles are two fiction writers with day jobs. Married 17 years, 4 children and an organic garden. Twitter: @BelatorBooks & @writerlrstyles WordPress Blogs: www..