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The Story Begins ...

You have your story idea and you're ready to begin your novel, but where do you start? You'll get tons of advice and people telling you, "This is how you do it." The thing is, there is no right or wrong way to do it. What works for them may not work for you.

There are authors who craft playlists for the book they're working and listen only to that music while writing, while others can only work in silence. Some who outline things down to the last detail and those of us who fly by the seat of our pants and shun outlines. You need to find the process that works for you. Listen to advice from others and take it in, but it doesn't mean you must adhere to everything they tell you. The idea is to make it fun and stress-free. If all you're worrying about is the process, then the writing becomes much less fun and more like work and it suffers because you aren't focused on the story. You need the freedom to be creative in a way that makes it enjoyable for you. If it becomes a daily grind then you'll find your creativity crushed and you'll want to avoid it.

Every writer has their own process. Do whatever makes you comfortable. Whether it's an in-depth outline with charts, pictures, and all the bells and whistles or a basic one that hits the major plots points. Maybe you write with no outline at all. My Merlin's Chosen series began with an idea for one scene and no other clue about the story line or the other characters, it's now an eight book series. I've written books where all I had was one sentence that popped into my head or an idea for the main character. I have never once sat down and crafted an outline for a novel. Most of the time I have zero idea where things are going or where they'll end up. This is my process and it works for me.

Your best allies are other authors. We are not in competition with one another, we are here to hold one another up and help one another. Find author groups on Facebook (or other social media), or locally in your city. Sometimes local libraries host author groups. Critique groups can assist you as well. You can bounce ideas off one another and get a different perspectives on things. We authors like to tout ourselves as introverts, and while that may be true to some extent, we're very social with one another.

Once you have your idea and your outline (or not), then you need to begin writing. Don't hide from the world though, social media is a must have for authors these days. From Facebook, to TikTok, and all of them in between. You can't avoid it because these are our best ways to get out there without leaving the house. There are publishing houses that work social media into contracts with guidelines for how many posts a day or week you must do and what platforms you have to belong to. An author I know had to signup for TikTok because it was in her contract, up until that point she had been avoiding it. You must build a following if you want readers. If you're planning on shopping your novel out to publishers they may look at your social media to see if you have built that following.

Your book is personal to you, you love your world and your characters and you want others to love them too. But in the end, it is a product and it must be crafted to appeal to readers out there. From your cover design, to the interior formatting and editing, and your blurb on the back. If one is off, readers may walk away without buying your book. Unfortunately, readers do judge a book by its cover. They will judge your writing, they will judge every detail. You must do everything you can to make it the best it can be.

We will talk more about cover design, blurbs, formatting, and editing in future posts. I'm planning on covering a lot of subjects dealing with writing and publishing. I am certainly not an expert but I've been in the industry since 2011 and I've seen a lot over the years.

If you have any questions or there is something you'd like to see me discuss, please feel free to contact me.

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