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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Writing a Novel- Step 1

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One of my favorite reasons for teaching at Venture is that they have adopted the Lucy Caulkin's curriculum. Some say it is abstract, too hard to teach, too detailed, and requires too much time, but to me, none of those reasons prove that it is an ineffective way to teach writing. In fact, all it proves is that it takes the teacher a little more effort to understand and teach really amazing writing concepts.

Her curriculum is one of the reasons I started writing again. As I taught my students each lesson, I always took the time to write and apply the practice to my own writing. Makes sense, right? We should never ask our students to do something we're not willing to do ourselves. Playground Treasures, my debut novel., is actually a product of a Lucy Caulkin's lesson.

So just for funsies, I thought I would review the steps I took to write my novel. These will be in a series of posts, but this one will explain how to get a story idea in the first place.

The first step to writing a story is to get an idea.

Funny right? Like that's so easy, Jenny. But it is. Authors for the most part are very observant people, or they have trained themselves to be. E. B. White got the idea for Charlotte's Web because he was sitting in the barn and looking up at a spider wen. The little spider was weaving its web, and he said the story literally popped in his head. So, takeaway from that- 

1. Observe the world around you.

2. Read other people’s writing, and better yet, read your own writing.
They say if you want to be a great writer, read a lot. And not just a lot of others' writer. Read your own musings as well. Look back into an old notebook and gather story ideas from what you have already wondered about in the past. Chances are there are some true, golden nuggets. 

3. Think about what stories you wished were in the world.

Imagine- If you could read a book about any topic, what do you wish it would be? Is that story written yet? If it's not, what  stopping you from writing it? What are stories you wished existed in this world? Let this question drive you to write about a character who deals with this issue. This was actually the reason that spurred my Playground Treasures book. I wished there was a book about a boy who ran away from a bad home and lived on the school's playground, the only place he felt safe. So, I wrote it. And even though I'd love for it to make it some day in some hall  of fame of writing, realistically that's not why I wrote the book. 

4. And for those who are not inspired by those three ideas, here's the last idea. Think about an issue that is important to you and create a character to do something about it. This is probably why a politics-driven agenda is on a lot of writers' plates. They want to do something about the political they write about a character that does.

So faithful readers, if you want to write a story and you're having a hard time finding an idea, I hope these four ideas get you going! Have fun writing. It's healing. It's people-growing. It's amazing.

And if you're looking for some clean romance short stories, my group's anthology comes out August 26th. You can pre-order the Kindle version or PM for your own autographed copy.

Watch out, step 2 coming soon!

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