It’s hard to start writing a niche genre like fantasy when you’ve got the passion for it, but no idea where to start! Maybe you have an idea, but you’re afraid to take the first step because you’re afraid of failing. While the writing process is frustrating and yes, your story may not work out, but if you do your research and work hard, you will find yourself creating an unbelievable story with a world you can mold to your liking. It’s going to take a lot of patience, will-power to push through tough areas, and learning a few tips along the way from fellow writers.
This is my “Where Do I Start List” on the most important parts of the writing process that I use all the time. None of these steps are chiseled in stone by any means but these are all tips / tricks I’ve learned over the years….and taken the good advice of better writers who helped me along my journey.
1. Write down EVERY SINGLE IDEA you have! When writing a novel it doesn’t matter how silly an idea may sound, you thought of it for a reason so write it down. These ideas can always stem into another and cause creativity and imagination to be boosted. Plus this is a great way to keep track of the “Idea Process” which is how you personally pop out ideas.
When writing ideas down it could be as simple as (random word here) or it could be a bit more complex and you take it a step further. Try something like this below and see if it helps with creating new ideas.
- “Maybe (insert random name here) came across a clue (insert random stuff here) and discovered a great secret.”
- “Should (name) be a knight or a king, or just some (random person in the story?)”
- Keep track of how you use ideas and organize them. See my post on mind mapping a novel to get some ideas of what to use and how to use this method.
2. Look at the setting of a story first before anything. If you are a fantasy writer like me, then I’m sure you’ve spent a good bit of time doing this already. Remember this is your story and you can make it however you like, but it’s always a good thought to look at other writers and see what imaginative thing they’ve come up with. Does your world rely on magic, or maybe it’s inspired by a real place and you’ve put a twist on it. Depending on what you choose, your characters must reflect the cultures and upbringing in this world. My novel is set in a fictional world but still close to home with traces of European cultures with kings, queens, monsters, tall tales, and hero’s alike.
3. Character development is an absolute must!!!! Make sure you take your time and plot out each character…give them some love as I’ve seen to many times where a story could have been great but the characters were very underdeveloped and it ruined the story. Pay close attention to those minor characters in the book because they can become key to a great story. Take a look at a post I did on writing minor characters.
4. Character Names have to tie into the cultures you use in the story. Think about that for a second as this can go a lot of different ways. Do you have a made up language like Tolkien, or maybe you’ve pulled from Greek mythology, or just classic names from different cultures. Most of my book I’ve created comes from a European background with a lot of made up in between.
5. Make a timeline because this helps keep everything consistent throughout the story, especially if you use days/weeks/months in your story. This will also allow you to go into accurate detail about places, seasons, weather, people etc. My book i’m currently working on, Brothers Three, ranges over the course of a 10 year period for the main story. This story begins with the birth of three brothers who were separated at birth to disguise who they really were, but picks up when the boys are 10. The story begins on a spring morning, so I made sure to describe the temperature and what the “Spring” season was like which also affected the terrains and landscapes of course. Always make sure to keep in mind the time of year and how long time has passed in your story so that it’s consistent. A timeline also helps with events leading up to your main story. Every major event in the story, whether it actually occurs during the present or not, should be recorded on the timeline. If something major happened to a character in the past, it should be recorded. If something major happens before a main character is born, record their birth-date on the timeline. I don’t want to give any spoilers away for my book so I didn’t want to share my timeline but one day in future posts I hope to share that process.
6. Make an outline of your entire plot. Some people argue against this process as there are authors who just write great work as they go along, but in my opinion making an outline worked great for me. Your timeline you created can help a great deal with creating the outline as you should be keeping track of all major plot points and how they roll across chapters, major / minor characters, minor plots, climaxes, etc.
7. Editing, Editing, Editing! Once you’ve typed out your manuscript, edit it yourself into multiple drafts….Why? Because you don’t want to lose the thing for one, and you are going to butcher this thing when editing it. I would take a few chapters at a time, print them out, and use a colored pen (I prefer red or blue) but any color you choose will work to cross out, change words, or fix punctuation. It definitely helped me to have a thesaurus and grammar book for quick reference as well.
These are the main points I like to use when writing and getting things ready to edit. Everyone is different and each has their own methods they will develop and enjoy to use. These are mine and I hope they might work for you on the writing journey. Good luck to all of you with your own writing adventures!