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5 Tips for Getting Your Story Out

Last updated: Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00

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You and I both know that as a writer, you have 10 million stories flowing through your head at any given moment. You hav ealways wanted to write a book—not just write a book, but publish a book—but maybe you aren't sure how to get started. Here are some general tips for getting that book—those 10 million books—out of your head and onto paper.

  1. Look to the Familiar. We aren't necessarily advising you to write a book about nothing (although that did work pretty well for one wildly successful and hilarious TV show we know of), but the best place to start when you want to publish a book but have nowhere to start is with the familiar. No one is more qualified to write about what you know than you are, right? Start seeing the extraordinary details—the funny, scary, and the unadulterated sad—in your every day life. Use those details. It will be therapeutic for you and it might just make a great story. One author, Ingrid Ricks, who we interviewed, used her childhood experiences to build her New York Times bestseller, Hippie Boy.
  2. Translate Your Hobbies and Passions. We all have things we feel strongly about, but not all of us have a talent for writing. As a writer, you have the advantage of both. Whatever it is—knitting, heliskiing, base jumping, or binge TV watching—there is a story there. You don't have to write about your own experience, but you could possibly transfer your passion and hobby and your knowledge of it to your characters and build a story around it. Author C.R. Asay, who just had her first published book, Heart of Annihilation, published, uses her own experiences serving in the military to build a riveting story. 
  3. Be a Student Again. If you are not sure what you can write about from your life and you don't feel that you can adequately write about your hobbies or passions, it might be time to hit the books again. One thing many writers do is take classes. Go back to school. Learn something new. In the process, you might figure out what your story is. Find something you would like to learn more about and investigate college courses that you could take or community education classes that could work for you. Through your new education, you might find a new hobby or passion, and you might find something familiar to write about.
  4. Brainstorm. It might sound like a high school writing exercise... not that there's anything wrong with that... but it will likely be very helpful. Many great writers recommend carrying a notebook and pen with you wherever you go so that you can write down book ideas, storylines, whatever you feel like, as the ideas pop into your head. Many great books start out and build around just one sentence. 
  5. Develop Ideas. Once you have some ideas stormed out on paper, develop some of those ideas. If you can't find a way to develop some, or you can't see them making good stories, it is okay to let them go. But before you kiss some of these ideas goodbye, make sure that you pass your briefly written down blurbs on to someone else. What you see as a dud, someone else might see as a great story and talk through it with you. 

What are some other ideas that you have for getting your book started? For you published authors, what worked for you? 

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