Everyone has a story, and sooner or later, we all have the impulse to put our story on paper. Writing is a challenging art, and new writers are full of questions when first starting a story. I’ve cataloged the most common questions I’ve received from first-time writers, and included what I hope will be helpful answers.
Question 1: What should I write about?
This is probably the single most frequent question I receive. Writers can draw inspiration from many sources. A writer can be inspired by a conversation they had or by taking some solitary time in nature. Think about what inspires you to be creative. If you like interacting with the environment, try writing a prompt where you observe a tree or rock in detail. If you enjoy talking to people, write a short description of a conversation you had. This will help kick start your mind into thinking critically and creatively.
Question 2: How do I create developed characters?
Your characters have their own voices. They should never be just vessels for your thoughts and opinions. Strong characters have beliefs and thoughts of their own. Finding this voice is an exciting challenge! Try writing a scene in which you have a conversation with your main character. This helps you separate your own voice from your character’s. Also, try writing a scene where your character introduces themselves to you. You’ll be surprised what you discover about them.
Question 3: Can I make money from my story?
After question1, this is the most common question I’m asked. The short answer is: I don’t see why not. The world of literature is opening up in the Age of Information. People can win awards from submitting to writing contests, or earn from publishing digitally through outlets like Amazon Kindle. The doors of traditional publishing are opening, and many smaller presses look forward to discovering new talent. I would suggest becoming involved in a local writers’ conference or workshop group to stay connected on the latest literary news.
Question 4: Is writing hard work?
Yes, and that’s a good thing. Anything truly worth doing is worth work. Patiently sculpting sentences and painting settings can be difficult, but is infinitely rewarding. At the close of a long day of writing, you know that you have created something of unique and singular beauty.
Question 5: How can I improve my writing?
Write, write, write! The only way to truly improve at any art is to practice as often as you can. Have others look at what you’ve been practicing. Their feedback will show you what you can improve, as well as where your strong points are. Remember that great works of literature weren’t written in a day. Writing is a process of gradual growth and slow flourishing. Let yourself explore new ideas, and learn from old ones. Most importantly, remember that there is no such thing as perfect. Don’t get trapped into making your story a spectacular work of genius. Focus on development, gradual improvement, and small victories.