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A discussion to stoke your writing fire.
Posted: 12/29/2010 8:11 PM PST
Well, this sounds all non fiction-y and I tend to avoid that, but, I've had to write it multiple times and have managed so I'll pass on what I've got...yeah...
Ok. So you have all of your info. The big first step is probably to organize it a touch. Or at least grab your main points. From there, just start writing. Beginning at the beginning is usually a decent starting place. The first sentence or even the title. You've the title part so move on to the first sentence. You want something that will draw the reader's attention and make them stay put. I've heard and read and been told that editors (and, more important, readers) can tell within the first five pages what the rest of the book is going to be like. This means, diction, flow, direction, all the good stuff people like. I've also heard that the same thing can be found out in the first five sentences. So, make the first one a good one.
I'll give you some examples since you seem puzzled in starting things.
'Six hundred twenty thousand Americans died in the Civil War.'
'It has long been believed by America that to have the type of government that it desires, the people must have access to certain abilities, rights.'
'Some women are assertive.'
ok. Not great examples. Sorry. I suppose they are examples of what you shouldn't do? But newspapers are supposed to be good at this part so you can read the first sentence of some articles and get the idea. It should draw you in.
Anyway. From the first sentence, let it flow into the next and the next and the next until you reach your thesis (which could be at the beginning I suppose) and you have successfully begun.
Examples again. No guarantee they will be good. Again sorry, the best I've got at the moment.
"Burdens. Perseverance. Atlas. The name denotes someone who carries an immense burden. History has long noted the myth of Atlas, the bearer of the world. The phrase, 'to carry the world on your shoulders' has been used for centuries, though never literally. Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged, thought that certain people have been carrying the world all throughout history. These people are the thinkers, the producers, the creators. Ayn Rand saw them as 'Atlases,' supporting life and gaining nothing in return but difficulties. She saw fit to write about this, in order to explain to others the wrongness of the world. Then, an English class read her book and learned firsthand what it is to persevere under great pressure."
"Some women are assertive. Some women are aggressive. And then some women are murderous. Lady Macbeth is all of these and more. What more could one ask for in a wife?"
"Six hundred twenty thousand Americans died in the Civil War. It had more American dead than all the other wars America's been involved in combined. The bloody Civil War did not just pop out of the ground like daisies, but nor was it inevitable. It was slowly and steadily nurtured by various events and chance figures, beginning with the arrival of English immigrants."
Don't know if those were any better, but I think you might maybe hopefully get the idea.
And then if you aren't writing nonfiction at all and I just wasted my breath, hey guess what? The same rules apply, only you get to have more fun. You are probably sick of my awful examples, but I keep trying. I'll also only put one. Feel free to skip.
"You know it's going to be a bad day when you wake up in chains in prison."
Um...I feel repetitive now. The first step to take you've already done. An idea. If you need characters (i.e. fiction), find them, learn who they are and you've got step two. If you start writing any idea that comes to you, any idea at all, then you've got step three. From there, just keep writing, read writing books, talk to other writers, find your sounding board, the person you bounce every single idea that pops into your head off of. If you come up with something halfway through the book, write that down. If you come up with eight different starting sentences, write that down too. Writing will surprise you. If you hold on tight and keep up with it, it will practically write itself, in a way. Metaphorically speaking.
Ok. I've bored you and confused you and wasted enough of your time. Sorry for being useless. I should have deleted all of this but I guess I keep hoping one tiny little thing might be useful. I suppose, just follow the other person's advice. It makes sense I would think.
Good luck. Have fun. Enjoy that first step. Honestly.
Posted: 7/23/2010 6:16 PM PDT
I'm guessing you're talking about writing non-fiction, so this advice applies to that. What I did with my book was sit down and make a table of contents first. I wrote out chapter titles, headings within the chapters, and subheadings within those. Then I started expanding on each piece. If one idea branched off into others, I went with it and just added those to my TOC. If you know you want 20 chapters, for example, and that you want the overall book to be 50,000 words, then you'll need 2500 words/chapter. With five headings in each chapter, that's roughly 500 words per section. If you break it down like that, it seems a lot less daunting. Rather than writing 50k words, you have to write, in effect, 500-word articles.
Posted: 7/21/2010 7:14 PM PDT
I have an idea, a title, a theme/topic, sub-topics, references, other books to read and knowledge of where to get my information.
Where do I start in writing? What is the first step i take?