Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

More Conversation about Beginning to Write a Book . . .


This discussion about beginning to write a book began August 22nd; and, you may want to read the post at that linked date to catch up… 

For those who don’t like to take links, here’s how I introduced the discussion:

“This…conversation could be wide-ranging…

“…each person is capable of devising some extremely unique ways of beginning—there really are no magic step-by-step methods to book writing…

“…of course the beginning-to-write depends on what’s to be written—poetry, fiction, non-fiction, metafiction—each category full of endlessly unique opportunities which all could demand particularly singular beginning efforts…

“…the actual beginning of beginning to write a book can be many things:

— capturing the concept of the book

— organizing the ideas of the book

— realizing the fullness of the book’s theme(s)

— admitting to yourself that a book is waiting to be written

— finalizing the sometimes painful process of realizing you actually should write a book

And, there are very special circumstances when a book seems to refuse to let itself be begun…”

So, since it only takes one comment on any conversation post to continue the discussion, I was glad to see two comments for this one…

The first response was from an author/publisher in Germany:

“The beginning of the pre-beginning is usually a strong emotion like anger or a ‘discovery’. Discoveries might be potentially insignificant like the relative sizes of trees; or, in one case the name of a street. I make a mental note and keep my eyes open in case other ideas start sticking to the first idea. This may happen soon or take a year or two. Then one day the accumulated ideas have gained weight and signal to me that they want to be written down. I try to ignore the urge. Instead, I allow the idea cluster to develop strands. At the right time, I sit down and write it all down.

“There have been stillbirths and false starts. One false start had to wait for a year before I could rewrite it into (what I think, at least) my most important book to date.”

I was expecting methods of beginning to write a book to be different than mine; but, this one surprised me by being something I could never imagine doing myself—gathering ideas for over a year; then, adding idea-strands to the cluster—it seems impossible to me to hold all that in a mind without writing anything down… :-)

Though, this author must have a quite remarkable mind…

The second comment came from an author in the United Kingdom:

“My books usually start with a person or a situation. They are the ones that get finished. Perhaps more interesting are the ones that come to a halt. One stopped because I was trying to write like Stephen King and felt it was a pale imitation. Another stopped because i found the story less interesting than I had hoped and didn’t have any idea how to spice it up. I was writing about someone with a love of houses but couldn’t convey the delight they had when looking over property for sale. I needed to go round some but didn’t really have an excuse. I didn’t want to lie or waste an agent’s time!

“The ones that get finished usually make a point, like how we treat the disabled or how to beware of scammers, even how to cope with redundancy! When I’m writing with a purpose the story gets completed.

“I’m not writing one at present – waiting for inspiration.”

Much about this author’s beginnings makes sense to me; yet, much of the detail is very different from my approaches…

If you’d like to know a bit about my approaches, check out the first post in this discussion

So, to hopefully encourage you to add a comment to this part of our conversation, I’ll list the questions I asked in the first part of it:

Have you had a book’s beginning happen to you…?

What could you imagine as the process of beginning to write a book…?

Are there some ultra-special factors in your wanting to begin a book…?

What are the unique circumstances of your book’s beginnings…?

How long does it take for a book to begin…?

How do you think the beginning a book should begin…?

Why did you begin a book…?

Why do you want to begin a book…?

Yes, I’m strange enough to think that the why-of-the-beginning is part of the beginning…

Have you begun more than one book…?

How have the different books’ beginnings begun…?

And, to add just one more:

If you’ve never written a book, how would you Imagine beginning the process………?
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5 responses to “More Conversation about Beginning to Write a Book . . .

  1. Jane Watson August 24, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    My first ideas for a book usually centre around an image or images. If I can’t see the image that represents some kind of metaphor I want use in the premise for the book then I can’t envisage the book. As I collect images, perhaps on paper or in a mindmap, I also begin to think of events that these images could be in. The images are then listed with a colour next to them ( say a red circle or a green cross or star) then those colour codes are also placed next to the events. an event which has a lot of coloured symbols is obviously one that has rich meaning for the work at hand. Once I have a list of image and events and metaphors that are closely interlinked like a colourful spider web I begin to get excited because then I know that the world I am trying to create has a dense meaning. I have tried to explain this to another fellow writer many years ago and they could not follow this … so it may seem obtuse :-) Perhaps it’s hard for a writer to describe how they begin!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Still More Conversation about Beginning to Write a Book . . . | Notes from An Alien

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