Story Starts with the First Word

I know writers that are horrified by a blank computer screen or a blank sheet of paper. These same writers are very good writers, some of them have years of writing experience and a have published books. Why would they be so terrified of writing the first word of a new book? The answer is simple, they are very good writers, have years of writing experience, and have published books. They know they are embarking on a long and difficult journey that (pardon the clichés) is fraught with danger. In other words, they know what they are getting into with that first word.

A good writer is going to finish that story and they know the sacrifices they will have to make to work their way to the last word of that story. There will be seclusion from everything distracting for long days, seemingly without end. There will be minutes that grow into hours staring at the computer screen, trying to make that magical just-right word appear next to the flashing cursor. There will be blind paths of storylines that don’t reach anywhere and have to be rewritten, or even worse, must fall to the fate of the dreaded DELETE key. Watching hours and even days of hard writing disappear with a keystroke is sometimes more than a writer can bear and they procrastinate only to dig deeper and deeper into a muddy trail that leads nowhere. That is where a writer’s courage comes into play.

If it don’t work, don’t keep it.

Pardon the grammar but I’m trying to make a point here. See, you can break the rules of writing. You just have to know the rules and have a good reason for breaking them.

One of the hardest things a good writer has to do is to hit the delete key and move on. But sometimes you have to do it. Be brave and have the courage to forfeit those lost hours or days to salvage a story that’s going nowhere. Get rid of the bad stuff and change the storyline as soon as you see that it isn’t working.

All this talk about needing courage and bravery and terror and sacrifice might seem a bit discouraging to a new writer. But that’s not what I’m about at all. These are things you must be prepared for if you want to be a writer of stories, especially if your story is novel length with a complex plot. The reward you get from completing a story is the exhilaration that comes with finishing a challenging job that was worth doing. I believe that writing stories is worth doing and worth doing well. I think that after you have experienced that exhilaration once, you will believe it too.

My next blog about Story will be a deep-dive into premise and the way that writers incubate an idea until it develops into a truth that will lay the groundwork for the plot of a story.