My guest today has worn several hats in her career. She is a former journalist and currently she is a full time writer who has written nine books and counting. Tess also teaches Writing Workshops.
It’s great to be here today * Tess takes a sip of her latte* and I’ve been thinking about what I could share Over Coffee, and what came to mind was all the people over the last few years who have written me and said, “I’ve always wanted to write” and “I have an idea for a story”.
A lot of these folks want me to write their idea into a book. But you know, I could never write their book the way they could, and that’s what I tell them! It always makes me a little sad, because I know most of these people will never even try to write their amazing stories, because the thought of it is too overwhelming.
So, while thinking of this, I decided, hey, I could share some of the ways that I get myself started on a new idea, just on the off chance that some aspiring writers are sitting here with me and Sia around the table sipping lattes. (BTW mine is delicious, and will someone please pass the chocolate chip cookies?)
Writing on the computer can be daunting, even to seasoned writers, so a great idea when getting started is to buy a notebook. Not just any notebook, but a special notebook. I credit my friend the amazing Luann Long with reminding me about this great motivating idea. She buys a special journal or notebook for each book she works on, and uses it to make notes and keep track of the story she’s developing.
I just bought a new notebook, and soon I will start the process! First, I’ll just think about my idea or story for a while, and then I’ll make some decisions. As a former journalist, I always fall back on the basics--Who, what, where when and why. Broken down, that translates into these questions, among others: Who are my characters? What kind of story is this? Where does the story take place? When does the story take place? And most important, Why oh why should my reader care about any of it?
- It isn’t necessary to start at the beginning of your book. What is the part of your special story that always comes into your mind? Do you see the guy and girl walking by the ocean? Sitting and having coffee? *Tess remembers her latte and takes another drink. * (Yum!) Whatever that scene is, start there. Write what you “see”.
- Still having trouble getting started? Start with some dialogue between two of your characters. Some people have an easier time with dialogue than description. Let your characters “talk” to each other for a while. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn about them!
- Is description your strength? Start with the setting. Describe where some part of the story takes place. The most important thing is to get started!
Tess Mallory is the published author of nine novels, the most recent, Highland Rebel, released March 2009 from Penguin-Putnam. Tess lives in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes full-time, teaches writing workshops, and takes care of assorted pets and children. Tess has written several plays, two musicals, and also many stories for children, published by Highlights for Children magazine. She is a singer/songwriter and wants to be a starship captain when she grows up. Visit her websites at www.sff.net/people/tessmallory and www.TessMalloryBooks.com, which both need work, or at www.myspace.com/tessmallory where you can become her MySpace friend. Check her out on facebook, and follow her on twitter!