Finding your inner story


People often say to me, “I want to write a book”, but when you drill down further they’re not quite sure how to go about it.

Is this you?

Some have attended writing courses and been advised to “just start typing, and see where your story takes you”. My advice: Bad Idea.

It’s known as stream of consciousness writing, and few authors can successfully pull it off. We are talking writers like Jack Kerouac or Virginia Woolf.

The end result of most such attempts is a meandering novel that’s not even sure itself where it’s going, and which more often than not slips into incoherence.

Let’s face it, getting 70,000 to 170,000 words on paper that actually make sense when read together is an art. If chimpanzees with typewriters could create masterpieces in stream of consciousness writing, everyone would be doing it.

So how does someone who is yearning to write begin their journey? The answer I always give: “with a story”.

If you can come up with a good story idea, then it’s not that hard to write it.

In the case of non-fiction writing, try and find the story behind the ‘story’. If you are writing a memoir of your life, for example, at one level your biography is a collection of stories about things that have happened to you. But what is the over-arching message or story that your book conveys? Is it a story of triumph against incredible odds, where each of the incidents you recount forms part of a giant join-the-dots plot? Or do you not yet have an endpoint or conclusion for your story?

These are things we can easily help you with, as we help you discover the story that  you would really like to tell.

Is your book a self-help title? If so, your story is easy to find: “I’m going to teach you how…xyz”.

Once you know what the main purpose of your book is, then you can begin planning it out.

Perhaps your passion is writing a fictional novel. Again, the same principle applies: what is your core story?

Great story-telling relies on great drama, and the ingredients of great drama are as old as Aristotle. You need characters who play off against each other. You need a plot that creates dramatic tension through its peaks and troughs, and ultimately your story needs a resolution – an ending that pleases the readers. Sure, you can give it an ending that people don’t like (known in the movie biz as ‘the director’s cut’), but taking that gamble is up to you. The main point is, your story needs to resolve itself.

If you have a plan, before you actually begin writing, of what your book is about, it is much easier to write.

Join us for one of our introductory webinars and we will teach you all this, and show you how to find your inner story and make the most of the opportunities that writing and self publishing provide.

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