Classic Being a Better Writer: Getting Started

Welcome back to another Classic Being a Better Writer post! For those of you who are unfamiliar with these posts, they’re essentially recall posts that look back on old BaBW posts and link to them for those newcomers who may have never seen them when they originated. BaBW has a pretty big backlog of articles, and with me having a goal of adding 4000+ words daily to my current book project (Jungle at the moment), Classic throwback posts can be a good way to keep some content going on the site (thus reminding people it exists), while still keeping my daily goals moving.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at today’s Classic! The topic? Tips for the beginnings of books and getting started, from the archive of Unusual Things!

Worldbuilding – Part 1—
… regardless of your approach to the presentation of the material, you’re going to need the material. And if you’re going to be building a world from scratch, you’re going to want bucketloads of it. Pages and pages of details that your fans may never see. Because a world isn’t just a picture on a canvas. A world is a complex, massive, living thing, and for it to appear real, you’re going to need to make sure that the various pieces of your world line up just right. Tolkien may not have explained what the trade of a major city was, but he knew what it was. You’re going to need to do the same.

Worldbuilding – Part 2—
By this point you’ve sat down and brainstormed up most of the details for your world. You know how the magic/science works. You know who the characters are. You know what the plot is and possibly have a decent idea of how to get from point A to point B. But now comes the real question: how much of this world that you’ve created do you want to share with your reader?

Fleshing Out Ideas – From Idea to Story—
Creating a written work is a lot like that. You can’t just expect to sit down with an idea and create a finished product. You need to go into it expecting to expend a great deal of personal effort, thought, and commitment.

It’s going to be work, plain and simple. You will expend effort. You will learn tips and tricks, ins and outs. You will study, you will practice, you will fail, and you will expend more energy than you ever thought possible. Developing an idea into a finished product is not something that happens overnight.

The Prologue—
The question of “what is a prologue?” seems to come up quite a bit in various group forums online, and unfortunately I can tell you that pretty much most things that have been posted in response to those threads have almost always been wrong. For instance, a prologue is not a substitute for the first chapter of a work. You do not title your first chapter “The Prologue” and then “start” with chapter 2. This is not what a prologue is. Nor is it the chapter in which you need to introduce your main character. Nor the chapter where you reveal your plot hook (separate from a narrative hook, a subject for another blog post).

That Opening Chapter—
… let’s face it: Every story starts. Your challenge as a writer is to start things off in a way that not only grabs your reader’s attention and interest (you want them to keep reading, after all), but also gives them a good idea of what to expect in the chapters ahead.


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