Recipe for a Book

29 Feb

When I first started my writing journey, I delved into numerous online resources in order to uncover the perfect “how to” for first-time writers. 

I learned that some writers create stories from a single idea that perpetuates its way onto a page.  Characters are developed to serve a specific purpose and perform their roles accordingly through the final lines of text.  Other authors take the time to outline and logically work through a story.  The steps taken from start to finish are meticulous, methodical. 

I didn’t do any of those things. 

When I began my project, I wasn’t even sure where the story was going to go.  I couldn’t have told you the ending or what disasters those unfortunate characters would face on the road to the final page because everything came to me as I went along. 

To date, the closest thing to an outline that I’ve created is a list of “scenes” that were playing out in my mind, but had to be put on the back burner so I could finish the more pertinent parts that had spilled onto the page.

Without an outline, extensive character development, heck, even a cohesive idea, how did I get anywhere?

To date, all of my stories have started out as bits of conversations.

I begin with a set of lines traded by monotone voices; the storyline develops around the exchange and my characters are born.  I ask myself: What type of individual would say those things?  What would possess a person to speak like that?  What led them to this point?

Then the setting springs to life: Where would this conversation take place?  What would the scene look, feel, even smell like? 

Before I know it, I have 80,000 words—and, in my unprofessional opinion, they’re not half bad.

The point of this post?  Now that I’ve written four manuscripts, I’ve finally figured out the only lesson I had needed to know when starting out and I’m offering it to you, free of charge.

Write this down: there is no perfect recipe for a good book.

You just need a good idea and the means and perseverance to get it all down on paper.

Right or wrong, it works for me.

-Jenny

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