Writing a story: How to get started and how to finish


Photo by: Wassim LOUMI

Many studies suggest a large number of people have a desire to publish a story (one such study even suggests the number being over 80%). However, an equally large number of people often feel they don’t know how to get started, let alone have the skills or knowledge to take a story across the finish line of publication.

NOTE: When I mention “publication” in this post, I am referring to traditional publishing, not self-publishing. That said, I feel the concepts and information in this post applies to both and encourage you to read on regardless of your stories final destination.

If so many people want to write books, how come there aren’t billions published each year?

There are many “reasons” why so many stories go unwritten and, sadly, the reason often comes down to a general lack of focus or allowing inaccurate perceptions to derail the story.

I am (un)happy to say that I used to be one of those poor souls above:

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Write all day — Even at work!


-Photo by: bulletproofbra

DISCLAIMER: While I wish there was a secret to being able to write all day long without any risk of losing your job — sadly, my title is only meant to represent the idea of keeping the writing spirit going all day long versus putting pen to paper. Is it shameless click-bait? Perhaps. Is the message I wish to provide powerful? Only you can decide!

As a part-time writer (ie someone who can’t pay the bills by writing alone), I feel I often lack the time needed to get into a writer’s frame of mind, to build on my stories, or even think about writing at all. Ignoring all the excuses we use to procrastinate (eg full-time jobs), one thing most of us can do is keep a “writer’s mind” throughout our busy day and use this mindset to be productive.

So what is a “writer’s mind” and how do you get one?

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Writer’s Warm-Up: Less than 30 minutes for a leaner, more creative YOU!


Like finally tuned athletes, it’s often suggested that we writers warm-up before truly flexing our writer muscles. The downsides are minimal (just a bit of time) and the benefits are numerous, including:

  • Clear your head of the day’s troubles
  • Get the creative juices flowing.
  • And, more importantly, focus your attention on what you need most!

Writing warm-ups can take many forms and cover a wide variety of topics. In this writer’s humble(ish) opinion, the best warm-ups are those that focus the writer on areas that need the most attention.

  • Are you weak at writing dialog?
  • Does your world-building or scenery fall flat?
  • Do character descriptions leave you wanting more?

Once you’ve figured out what you need to work on, add that into your warm-up routine. That way you are always reflecting and working on that topic every writing session!

As an sample to get you started on your own customized warm-up, here’s my own routine and why I use each step in the process:

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6 Simple Tricks to Open Your Novel Strong


Originally published on Commas & Sense Editing.

You’ve probably heard that if you want to sell your novel to a publishing house, the beginning of your story has to have a great hook. However, did you know that many editors make a decision based on the first sentence or paragraph?

The opening of your novel has never been more important, and here’s why.

Agents and editors will quit reading if your opening sentence doesn’t have zing, or your opening paragraph must have hook. They have dozens of submissions to read every day, and if the opening doesn’t hook them, they won’t bother with the rest. Sadly that also means you can write a brilliant book, but if your introduction doesn’t start right it won’t matter.

Image courtesy of Commas & Sense Editing

The good news is, there are 6 simple tricks to creating a strong opening sentence that hooks them into the story. Continue reading

Expression or Impression: Writing’s Role in the Rigmarole

Are you stuck in a loop of writing, editing, and submitting with no end in sight? Maybe you have an agent, but he hasn’t been able to sell your stuff. Maybe you’ve published a short story in your local paper. Whatever the case, you are a writer. Obsession isn’t always the right word to describe the passion you put into your pieces, but you put pen to paper and create while somehow juggling life in the foreground.

Most of us are background writers, and that’s more than okay: that’s reality. Now we’re approaching summer, and I always find myself a little more energetic. Why, just these last two weekends I pruned my honey locusts, planted some lilacs, and finished a frame for a three-by-four-foot painting. Now I need to write. Continue reading