Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The First Steps

Today I thought we'd start at the very beginning. A writing group I attend met last night and talked about why we write, what drives us, but that is not what I am talking about when I talk about the very beginning. You are here, doing what you do, or hoping to, because you have a passion and desire to write, and it does not matter so much why. What does matter is the story, and that's where we start.

The Story.

Where does it come from? Do you write about your own life, somebody else's or do you make something up from scratch? The most important thing in my view is to write about something that is important to you, or that you love.

When you find yourself sitting at the keyboard and nothing is happening, or you are walking the streets looking for the first idea don't try too hard. The ideas you have in your head will fit into the right story when the time comes.

My first book, Arlington Reef came from two news stories, which both appeared on the same day. One was on one of the morning shows on TV and was talking about why ships are not allowed to navigate on the inside of the Great Barrier Reef (in parts) and the other was in a newspaper and talked about an art robbery. I put the two things together and came up with drugs and murder. It was not such a big leap to take as reading the story would show.

Room 22 came next and I tried the same thing, but I was living in Cairns and for two weeks nothing remarkable happened! I finally took four of my short stories and put them together. It was amazing how ell all the characters got on and next thing I know there was murder and intrigue spilling all the way along the golden shores of Cairns.

Now the fact I think you should write about things you love does not mean that I love murder and mayhem, I just like the art of exploring people's minds.

Stories are all around us and we do not have to write them as they happen, that is why I deal in fiction. All we need is the one thread that strikes home and lets us get the first words out. One line, one paragraph, one page. A first chapter that has you wanting to write more. Then you are away.

The story may not come and tap you on the shoulder so you might have to be paying attention, but it is looking for you almost as hard as you are looking for it, and remember, when you first start writing it, don't worry about it being perfect, the story is a patient best, and it likes to hibernate every now and then.

Where have you found your stories? What is it that sparks your interest in sitting down and writing?


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