They say there’s a story lurking inside everyone. Maybe that’s why most people dream of writing a book. Some dream of becoming writers in their lifetime. While many start their writing journey by writing a short story, review, article, blog, or article. The brave write a novel.
My advice, start writing. If you don’t put pen to paper, how are you going to put your thoughts into words? But first, have a basic idea of your plot in mind. Then let your characters pop out of your head on the page and let the story flow.
A word of warning. Please send your inner editor—that annoying voice screaming a constant string of instructions, giving you nonstop advice—for a long vacation. Write down whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make sense at the time.
The first draft is always a relationship between the writer and the story, between the writer and the words. Even a bad first draft is better than a blank document. The best part about a first draft is that you can revise it, like shaping a piece of clay. You can rewrite it and work on it in many ways. So start and fill those blank pages with the words of your story that were sitting on a shelf in your head, jostling for space with several other things.
After the first draft
Now that you’ve written the first draft. Leave it aside for a few days. Let it simmer in its own juice. It is important to get away from it; this separation of a few days is crucial, as it gives you new insight and perspective.
A few days later, when it’s time to brush up on your writing, bring that inside editor back from that long vacation you sent her on. Be nice to her and listen to her constant chatter. The in-house editor is our first editor who will highlight the initial flaws in your writing and story.
Now, like a blacksmith, start shaping your words into the best possible version. Check the flow of the story. Does the story move at a decent pace? Is there a place where you want to leave the story and take a break? This is a red flag. Because if you’re bored, chances are the reader will be bored too. Tighten the plot, adding scenes that increase tension or moments of suspense. Add cliffhangers at the end of chapters that will keep the reader turning the pages of your book.
Are there any scenes that don’t make sense? Delete these scenes or rewrite them. Does your main character appear in three dimensions? Are your other characters well fleshed out? If so, you are on the right track. Otherwise, work on strengthening the main character with a strong motive and flesh out those other characters. Cardboard cutout characters do not appeal to readers. You want the main character’s readers to love and follow until the last page. Delete anything unnecessary or slowing the pace of the story. Even if it means killing your darlings – favorite words and scenes. Review the overall plot.
Now that you have the story and character(s) in place. Check if your descriptions take readers to the places you want them to visit through your story. Rewrite sentences by adding vivid descriptions; restructure paragraphs to build momentum in your story, until your writing and story start to make sense and start to sparkle.
Polish the finest points
Make a list of any mistakes you see in your writing. Is the plot slow or does it lack logic? Does your character seem superficial? What are your character’s motivations? Your descriptions don’t work? Are your sentences too long? You don’t want readers to put the book down because they’re bored or tired of reading long sentences that slow the pace of the plot. Correct your mistakes. Tighten the plot. Improve the character. Make short, smart sentences. Add more specific descriptions. Pick up the pace.
Now read your own work, wearing the critical glasses of a reader or the piercing eyes of your teacher. Once you’re satisfied, send it to a trusted review partner for feedback. Use these comments and revise your story only if the comments resonate with you.
You can’t change your story to suit everyone, so think carefully and revise accordingly. Comments are crucial, but they cannot interfere with your view of your story and characters.
(The author is a writer by profession)