‘You get an idea and… it just grows’ – interview with book and writing blogger Michelle Dunton

michelle-intToday I’m at Michelle Dunton’s Youtube channel, talking about ideas, where they come from and how they end up as books. Michelle’s been reading my novels and decided to pick my brains for her podcast. One question of hers I particularly liked: she asked how a first-time fiction author should start writing a book. Should it be the characters, the plot, what? My answer: ‘start with something you can’t stop thinking about’. And from there, everything flows – as it does in this discussion. Do hop over.

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  1. #1 by Phillip T Stephens on February 6, 2017 - 10:33 pm

    Most first time writers, the serious ones, have an idea (or two or three) that’s already been burning in the back of their brain for a while. They’re just too afraid to commit because they doubt their abilities, or they don’t know where to start.

    If you have such an idea just start writing with whatever you can. Contrary to movies and TV, few writers start with the first line of the first chapter. Write dialogue between two characters, a description of a location, or even jot down notes. Not even an outline. Those can come later.

    What you write might not end up in the final draft. I’ve discarded so many chapters I can no longer count. Think of your brain as a clogged up faucet. You have an idea stuck behind a pipeful of junk, and you need to push the junk through to unclog your faucet. The practice of writing provides the pressure to push the junk out and start the flow of ideas from your brain to your word processor (whether it be Microsoft Word or a pen on paper).

    Here’s the flip side: If you don’t have any ideas burning in the back of your brain, looking for tender to catch fire, you may just like the idea of being a writer. That doesn’t mean you’re cut out for it. (Sorry, but it’s true.) I recommend you take a creative writing or, if you prefer no-fiction, an essay writing or journalism class. At least two. Your assignments will give you plenty of ideas you can convert to saleable work, and your teacher’s feedback can help you decide if you’re really cut out to be a writier. (I recommend two classes because some teachers are assholes—I know having taught at high school and college levels—and may take a disliking to your work just because.)

    • #2 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on February 7, 2017 - 6:37 am

      Hi Phillip! Nice summary there of the various beginner situations. Especially the note about creative writing classes, which might be a question of finding the right chemistry. Or realising you’re not cut out for it!

  2. #3 by tracikenworth on February 6, 2017 - 10:38 pm

    I like that: start with something you can’t stop thinking about!

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