Writing a story is a test of your persistence. You may have writing talent and great creativity but to write a complete story (novel or screenplay) you need to work. You need to think of your process as work and act accordingly. Set a regular time to write at least six days of the week. Be committed. In the best of all possible situations you will have no distractions or interruptions. Turn the ringer off on your phone. Email and social networking are definite come later activities. The hardest part will be to train your family and friends to wait until your declared work time is over.
For the next few posts I will talk about the first seven steps before you begin writing your first draft. Yes, there are more steps after that first draft is written. But first let’s get ready to begin writing the story.
- The Idea and the First Event
- People of the world—your story’s characters in broad strokes
- Research—the where and when
- Characters—the details
- Setting—the place(s) where your characters interact
- Scene Outline—all the possible scenes and how they are causally related
- Plot Outline—organizing the scenes into story form
But I want to write my story, you say. Doing these steps first will actually facilitate your writing. You’ll know every room in the courthouse; you’ll know which character has the scar over his eye and whether it is clear blue, green, hazel, or black. You will know how scene two sets the conflict for scene eight. And much, much more. Your writing will flow.
If you can’t wait, go ahead write one of your scenes. But just keep it on hold until you have done your background work.
Be prepared. Along the way people are going to ask you, “You’re writing a screenplay/novel? How many pages have you written?” Instead of answering with a humbling one or three or maybe ten, cite the 120 pages of character delineation, or the 20 pages of settings. They are all part of the process. You will know that you are taking the necessary steps to write a professional piece.