A funny thing happened to me the other day…well, I thought it was funny. The person I was speaking to was genuinely serious and I may have hurt their feelings a bit (Sorry!) but I was certain they were just kidding. They asked me, “How do you write a book?”
After I got up off the floor and wiped the tears from laughter off my face, I sat down and told my friend the truth, “You don’t. The book writes you.”
I know that sounds cryptic, but it’s true in more ways than one. It all starts with an idea, and then all hell breaks loose from there.
Why? Because if you are truly serious about writing, and are driven to take on this task, you become a slave to that idea once it is in your head. Every conversation, every event, every song you hear, every daily task, takes on an entirely new meaning. It’s not just something you are doing, but something your characters could be doing, too. Therefore, it becomes exaggerated and thick with reference…and followed along closely by your inner senses asking, “Why?”
“Why did I do that?”
“Why was it important?”
“Why didn’t I do that instead?”
“Why did that man look at me that way?”
“Why did he ask me that rude question?”
“Why did he flip me off just now?”
“Why am I sitting at this green light talking to myself?”
The ‘idea’ of a book can consume every waking, and sometimes sleeping, thought you have. That is until you write it down.
Step #1 – Form the idea.
Okay…so now you have an idea…Now what?
Well, now it’s a matter of the chicken (an outline) or the egg (summary) coming first…or which direction you, as a writer, can work with better.
Step #2 and/or #3, the outline and summary
Personally, I’m a chicken person (Boneless and skinless preferred. Better flexibility for my tweaked mind), but if you want to go the egg route first, that’s fine. Either way you go, they BOTH need to be done. Why? Because you need all the edges of the puzzle before you can start to fill in the pieces and see the big picture, and eventually once the picture is complete you’ll need to be able to tellabout it in a few sentences.
So, now I have my fully prepared boneless, skinless chicken…and I have a pretty little egg…now, I go back to that original idea, and create dinner guests (characters) to eat this creative cuisine with me.
Step #4 – Character analysis
Once I have a few designed, and know whom and what they are to the base idea, its time to eat!
Step#5 – Write!
You build. You tear down. You create. You emote. You take a stand…and you leave a part of you on every page of script. You can’t help it. This piece is made from blood. Your blood. Your brain matter. Your heart and soul. The book is you.
So, there we have it…Five easy steps, filled with madness and the horror of failure, but all in all a very worthwhile and fulfilling task should you decide to take it on. My methods, if you want to call them that, are out there! I mean, it’s not rocket science, and I am in no way trying to reinvent the wheel. I just use my common sense and the few skills passed on to me by some really fine teachers who loved our wild and wacky English language as much as me. The one thing they instilled in me, that I hope I conveyed here, is flexibility. Rigidity cracks and sometimes stops motion. There needs to be give and take, ebb and flow. Just as you breathe. your creativity breathes. Let it. And let the book write you!
Besides…who doesn’t like a good chicken dinner?