Take it from somebody who knows, writing your first book is hard. You could have a million thoughts running through your head. Maybe you know exactly what you want to write, but you don’t know where to start. Or you could just be toying with the idea of writing something.
That first word you write will be the hardest. A lot rides on that first word, first sentence, first paragraph. If you can’t grab your readers attention, then they won’t ever finish your book. Before you write those firsts, you have to know what you’re writing about.
There are many different ways to figure this out, and each writer has to find out which works best for them. Let’s look at some of the best ways to find your story.
Number 1 – Write about the things you know
If you’re a botanist, then you shouldn’t be writing about marine biology. Tolstoy didn’t write about Oscar Wilde, and Oscar Wilde didn’t write about Tolstoy. They wrote about the society and people they knew. Whether you choose to write fiction or non-fiction, pick a topic that you understand.
If you want to write about things that you know nothing about you have to experience them. Learn as much as possible. Read plenty of books, visit new places, and talk to people who have lived it.
Number 2 – Read, read, and then read some more
Read a butt-load of books. The types of books you read will likely dictate your writing style and niche. I have nearly two shelves on my bookshelf full of Laurell K. Hamilton books. I also almost have a shelf full of Stephen King books. Make sure you learn things when you read. Make notes about the books, about the subject matter, about the writing style; anything and everything.
Number 3 – Write things down
Make yourself a brainstorming journal. Time yourself for 15 minutes, and spew out everything onto a piece of paper. Once your timer goes off, look over the paper and see if anything makes sense. Then leave it alone. Set it to the side for a day or so, and then come back and see what you get from it.
See if you can find some commonalities, and then write down a sensible list of topics. Then start working through how these topics could become a story. Brainstorm some more ideas, and see if you can flesh out a possible outline.
Number 4 – Get some feedback
Once you have an idea as to what you want to write about, ask your friends and family what they think. You can do this on sites like Quora as well. Write out an outline, and then find out what people think. Don’t take their opinions too personally. They are just opinions, everybody has them. Some people will like your ideas, and others won’t. But make sure you listen to everybody’s opinion, not just the ones you like the sound of.
Now that you have an idea of how to come up with a topic, it’s your turn to write something. As cliche as it may be, everybody has a story in them. You just need to figure out your story.
“And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”
William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)