Where We Discuss
Where To Start
What You Want To Get Out Of Your Book
The Importance of Planning Ahead
Where Do You Start?
You may already have your story plotted out in your head. Your characters may have been living inside you for years. On the other hand, you may have a collection of ideas but have no idea where to start. Self-publishing is worth it. But like all long journeys, you’ll need to start somewhere.
You can do it, but it can be a long journey.
Of course, your aims and goals will be different from others and this leads us to my first bit of advice:
Don’t Compare Yourself To Anyone Else.
Comparing yourself to other writers is not going to do you too much good when you are starting out. You naturally compare your behind-the-scenes life to their show reel. The two are never going to be the same. As a result, you’ll become demotivated before you even start. Winning is about tenacity and hard work.
Before you even type the words ‘Chapter One’, it’s worth setting yourself a few aims and goals. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself ‘What do I want to get out of the process?’ Are you looking to make living out of it? Or are you wanting the warm satisfaction of holding a copy of your book in your hands?
Spend some time thinking about your answers. They will be the motivation that keeps you going when you feel like packing it all in. If it helps, write your goals down somewhere. Visualise achieving your goals when you close your eyes in bed at night. It might sound over the top, but having a clear goal is the one thing that will help you achieve it.
I’ll tell you a quick story: Back in 1990, I was sitting my GCSE English exam. I’d always enjoyed English as a subject but never really listened in class. I’d often gaze out of the windows and across the sunny fields and dream of where life would take me. In my exam, I was asked to write a short story. My eyes quickly scanned the list of titles available to me and within seconds, I’d decided which one I would work on.
I delved straight in, scribbling furiously away. But ten lines into the story, I’d run out of steam. My story had nowhere to go. As I had no idea how the story ended, my story wandered all over the place and came to a dithering anti-climax of a conclusion. I scraped a C grade. Just.
Many years later, when I became an English teacher, I’d see my students doing exactly the same thing. My advice to them:
Start at the End.
“Start at the end?” would be the usual reply, accompanied by a confused look.
Yes, start at the end. With both your project and your story. If you know where you want to go with your project, you’ll be able to plot how to get there. If you know how your story ends before you even start it, you’ll be able to plot how to get there.
Working backwards offers so many benefits, the main one being that you can actually benefit from hindsight. In your story, you can drop clever clues along the way, clues that your reader won’t notice on the first time of reading. Yet if you’re lucky enough to have your story read twice, they’ll see just how clever you are.
So start at the end. Think about how you want to leave the reader once they’ve turned the final page and put your book down.
Next we’ll look at the most important factor in publishing a successful book – finding your niche.