Organizing what you’ve written is as important as what you’ve written. As your writing credits grow, you’ll need a system that allows you to keep track of each story’s history and gives you the ability to locate a story quickly.
Years ago I submitted a Christmas story about teaching my sons the spirit of giving rather than of receiving through the use of an Advent calendar. I selected ten potential markets and sent the story out. All ten came back unaccepted. Months later I received an email from an editor from one of those magazines. He asked if I was the Janice Alonso who’d submitted an article about an Advent calendar. I checked the story’s folder and found the form letter that had accompanied my returned manuscript. I scanned the form rejection and answered his email with the letter attached. That same afternoon he responded requesting that I please resubmit my story to him directly. I did and, in a light, friendly tone, added that I had several more stories he’d rejected if he’d like those as well. He liked my attempt at humor but answered that he thought the one would work just fine.Read more: Embolden Your Writer with a Plan, Article 6: Keep Track of What You've Written
It’s time to settle in front of your computer or put pen to paper. Now you’re ready to write. You are prepared to get that story out of your mind and into words. If you’ve followed the plan so far, however, your writer within is not entering into a vacuum. You have a plan. That plan has a goal and a road map to guide you toward achieving that end. You have set aside a time to write, you’ve created a place to write, and now, by golly, you have something to say and a way in which to let that story unfold. While my creative plan works differently for nonfiction and fiction, my start for each is the same.
This draft is only the first of many rewrites and revisions: make sure you begin on the right foot by giving your story a sound foundation. Set up your document in the way you will present your final manuscript so that it is in a ready-to-submit format.Read more: Embolden Your Writer with a Plan, Article Five: The Highly Anticipated (Dreaded?) Hour Arrives
Your idea box is overflowing with photos, napkins, and note cards, and your notebook has more scribbled-on pages than blank ones. Ideas are wonderful and the more the merrier is my attitude, so be sure to continually tuck away those thoughts. However, an idea is only an idea. It needs development to become a viable work that will stand on its own.
This is the point at which I feel the majority of beginning writers go astray. They have an idea and then take it straight to the computer. After a few pages the story loses its momentum and the writer has no fuel in reserve to keep it running. Before an idea is ready to become a story, it needs more substance and support.
The researching stage will give your writer within the opportunity to explore more deeply an idea’s potential. This stage will also reveal other avenues in which you can present your idea or various scenarios in which to highlight and develop a storyline. During the research stage you will want to study possible markets for your idea. Investigating possible places to submit your completed manuscript will alert you upfront as to each publication’s requirements. All this information will give your idea a framework in which to blossom, much like an artist must decide on the form and colors in which he/she will present an artistic conception.Read more: Embolden Your Writer with a Plan, Article 3: Let Me Look Into That – Part One
Now that you’ve enriched your idea with related information and considered different ways in which it can grow, you next need to decide “what to make of it.” How you’ll showcase your idea is vital for you to know before you begin the writing process. The way in which you present your idea to the reading world will direct how you’ll structure your story.
During the research stage your writer within will place his/her fingerprint on the story. Think of your idea as the lump of clay in a potter’s hands. Once the artist has selected his material, he alone will shape it into its final form. Thousands of writers have written mystery stories. Thousands of musicians have written love songs. Thousands of actors have portrayed zombies. But how you as the writer shape your idea will set your completed work apart from the many stories this idea has generated before. Remember, this is your story and what you chose to do or not do with the idea and its related components will make it uniquely yours. So, now is the time if you haven’t done so already to decide on your message, audience, and form. Knowing these things will not hamper your creative spirit; in fact, they will strengthen and clarify the actual writing process when you arrive at that stage.Read more: Embolden Your Writer with a Plan, Article 4: Let Me Look into That – Part Two
Every story, book, play, movie, television show, painting, song . . . you name it . . . began as an idea. Great inventions, beautiful clothes, successful businesses . . . need I go on . . . were once a spark in someone’s imagination. The key to writing is to take these ideas and learn how to develop them into completed and viable works that will stand on their own merit.
For this second series of columns, I’m going to assume you’ve read the first set of columns and followed each step. This means I will try not to repeat key writing points we addressed previously. I want to keep this series fresh with new information. Your writer within now as a designated time and place in which to work, and is writing every day. Perhaps you’ve been blogging or journaling. What you write is not so important as the fact you are writing. By engaging in this daily practice, your writing muscles are now warmed and pumped and ready to get down to a serious, planned workout that will result in beautifully sculpted stories.Read more: Embolden Your Writer With a Plan, Article 2: Hey, I've Got an Idea!