So, you want to write a book. For the next few weeks — maybe with a break for other writing announcements or reviews — we’ll tackle the five Ws and the H … that’s What, When, Where, Why. Who, and How. Last week we started with What. Today we’ll tackle the When. They are all interconnected.
There are many writers who make a living as a writer. But the majority are just squeaking by or writing to an audience of one. Those in the latter categories are who I would like to help with this overview.
I do believe everybody has a story to tell. We don’t share because we don’t know how to tell the story … then we get frustrated … then we give up. I don’t want you to give up.
Now that you made the decision to do some writing, and decided what you were writing about, it’s time to start honing it.
Your idea will pretty much give you a timeframe for your work. My latest book, My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through, for example, chronicles information about Samantha from about age five into her 70s. So, all of the descriptions should be geographically and chronologically accurate. In my case, Sam’s early years were in the mid-60s in northern New Jersey. After she got married to a Navy officer, the scene shifted to the Dayton, OH, area from the 70s on.
I bring this up because you decide the time frame. If you’re writing something historic, know the history. Know what was happening during that time. If you’re writing a contemporary piece, stay in the here and now. If you’re writing a futuristic fantasy, let your imagination run wild … but you still have to give your readers a reference point.
I’ll give you another example – one few if any readers would notice. Not inclined to go shopping myself, in my novella, Heaven Shining Through, I made a reference to Sam and her friends going to the mall. It was 1965. Unfortunately, the mall they would have gone to wasn’t completed until 1969. So in the rewrite to the novel (Sam), I changed it to going research, downtown, which would have more sense.
The same is true for phraseology. You have to be careful not to use phrases or words that weren’t used during your particular time frame.
That all, of course, leads to research, research, research. You can write about what you know – in fact you should write about what you know – but if the words or scenes are at odds with your time frame, you may have a problem keeping your readers’ interest.
Another question I am frequently asked is when I write, so I’ll address that aspect in this tutorial. I write whenever I get the chance, although I generally prefer late morning/early afternoon. When you write, however, is not as important as actually spending time writing. Like any other skill, practice and repetition are crucial. The more you write — whether scheduled or not — the more proficient you will become.
I’ve been writing for well over 50 years, mostly news stories and opinion/editorial pieces for various newspapers and magazines. Since 2012 I’ve been blogging. Until this year, it wasn’t every day, but I’ve still managed 1,101 posts (including today) on a variety of topics. In the last 19 months, Ive penned three books. It’s a matter of getting into a rhythm.
I do have a caveat. Don’t let the writing process become a chore. If you enjoy writing, sharing, don’t let the process dampen that enthusiasm. While you might plan on an allotted time for writing, life has a way of getting in the way. That’s okay. You are not always going to be inspired. Let those interruptions become your inspiration. Some days you might be able to just jot down five minutes of thoughts. Other days the clock will race by for hours without you even realizing it.
Writing is an expression of creativity. It’s not enough to have an idea. You have to be able to develop it.
Next time, we’ll address the Where in your writing.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, “Relax, sweetheart, it’s just a bend, not the end!”