Really Useful Links: Starting At The Beginning by Paul Anthony Shortt

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Paul Anthony Shortt

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

As I’ve done more freelance work and thought over my own insecurities about writing, it’s struck me that for all the advice we get about the process, few people really take the time to delve into the difficulties and challenges to simply starting. Beyond the decision of whether to dive straight in or plan out your novel beforehand, it is, frankly, daunting to stare at a blank page and tell yourself that at some point this empty Word document is going to become an 80,000-word novel. I find beginnings the hardest part of a book to write, often struggling over my first paragraph, or even my first sentence, for hours before I get to work.

So for this week I thought I’d seek out some of the best advice the Internet has to offer on beginning your story.

1: 10 Ridiculously Simple Tips for Writing a Book – Jeff Goins’ article is directed to the newbie author, the ones who’ve never finished a book before and want to give it a shot. As such, it’s perfect for all authors of any level of experience. Start small, keep your work manageable, and remain accountable to yourself. No matter how strong your beginning, it won’t matter if you never get past the second chapter.

2: How to Start Writing a Book – Kasia Mikoluk’s article for Udemy Blog provides a solid step-by-step outline for what your writing journey is going to involve. I personally like the advice to work out the end before you work out your beginning, but I prefer endings to beginnings, anyway. You might feel different.

3: Why “Start With The Action” Messes Up So Many Writers – We’ve all heard this bit of advice, and it’s back to Janice Hardy with a hard-hitting, clear-cut look at how it is so often misunderstood. “Action” doesn’t mean car chases and explosions, and it doesn’t mean skipping out on building your characters up for the reader. It means characters taking action, interacting with their world in ways that are meaningful to the story. Take the reader to where the story starts to matter, and blend that intensity with personality and plot elements that help the reader relate to your characters.

4: How To Write Great Story Beginnings – Creative Writing Now talks about hooking your reader from the beginning, providing a handy checklist of just three basic things your beginning needs, and an extra three points that help your beginning lay some foundation for the rest of the story.

5: Ultimate Story Structure Worksheet – This handy pdf asks you to answer a series of questions about your setting, your character, their goals, their obstacles, etc. Even if some of this work never appears in your book, having it all laid out as a reference like this helps the story feel real before you’ve even begun.

6: Structuring Your Novel – K.M. Weiland provides this clear visual chart as a writing aid. It lays out a blank story structure, ready for you to note down the major turning points and events of your story. I have this particular chart on file for my own use, and believe me, it’s worth taking the time to save a copy.

7: 20 Great Opening Lines – Let’s round off with a list of some of the best opening lines used by authors. Even if you don’t find them to be particularly inspiring for your own work, they absolutely show you the range of feeling which can be evoked by choosing the right first sentence.

8: National Emerging Writer Programme – Finally if you haven’t seen it, the National Emerging Writer programme  is a series of videos made by Writing.ie featuring authors Carlo Gebler, Sinead Moriarty and Declan Hughes, giving lots of information on getting your story off the ground. With a whole programme devoted to Carlo Gebler and ‘Starting to Write’, the DVD is available from your library (in Ireland), handily cut into bite size chunks on You Tube, or on Amazon to purchase,

(c) Paul Anthony Shortt

About the author

Paul Anthony Shortt believes in magic and monsters; in ghosts and fairies, the creatures that lurk under the bed and inside the closet. The things that live in the dark, and the heroes who stand against them. Above all, he believes that stories have the power to change the world, and the most important stories are the ones which show that monsters can be beaten.
Paul’s work includes the Memory Wars Trilogy and the Lady Raven Series. His short fiction has appeared in the Amazon #1 bestselling anthology, Sojourn Volume 2.

Website: http://www.paulanthonyshortt.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pashortt

Twitter: @PAShortt

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