A Shadow Away, which became the first story in a planned six-book series called “Alex Cort Adventures,” almost came about by accident. Several articles I wrote had been published before, but I never thought of writing seriously.
In the beginning, my objective was to create a world for myself. A magical world of adventure with people I liked and wanted to spend time with. It’s been a while now, so I don’t remember exactly how I got started, but I do remember that things of interest I’d read before started to present themselves as scenes and parts of a story. Then plot ideas and dialogue unfolded in a smooth stream from my imagination. There was a story I wanted to tell. Everything I’d learned and studied that I found of interest, I wanted to share.
That formed the gist of the story that became “A Shadow Away.” Once I had the main character in mind, which was Angel, the rest of the story and characters and dialogue just came easily as I listened to them bring the story to life. Angel called herself a witch and she had her own kind of magic. With her I could write about other dimensions, fantasy, and the supernatural.
I studied archaeology and have been interested in it for quite a few years. Many facets of science and exploration interested me, too, so I read books and subscribed to magazines, and learned about everything from quantum mechanics to the universe. Now in this planned magical adventure series, eccentric archaeologist Andrew Seaton lets me share all kinds of interesting topics from scientific discoveries to superstition. Alex Cort was basically me in the beginning, someone with a curiosity about this world and its myths and legends.
I think the clue to writing an interesting story that will appeal to your readers, is to write about what interests you. If you find it interesting, and write about it creatively, others will want to read your work. A lot of advice is given to write about what you know. It’s a good place to start, because when you know a subject well, you can add depth to your story.
That reminds me of another thing I learned about writing on the fly. The story may come to you easily—that’s great! Just remember that the first draft is only the beginning. Set it aside for a while when you’re done, then go back and read it through. I know, you’ll think it’s perfect, but as you read it again, you’ll see places where you can improve the dialogue, flesh out one of the characters, or fix a hole in the plot. Everyone you show it to from friends, to editors, to beta readers (people who critique your story before its published) will have an opinion. So, show it to people you trust, then analyze their comments and take what rings true for you.
I’ve enjoyed this time with you. Write me back with any questions or comments, or tell me a story about your own journey!
It’s not easy finding quiet time to collect your thoughts. If you work all day, whether it’s at home or in the office, it’s hard to find enough time, right? I found the best thing to do is jot down ideas when they come to me, so I can add them to my manuscript later.
I chose to feature the picture of my cat in this post because even when you do manage to make it to your writing table — something will always pop up to distract you. My cat is one reason my work doesn’t get done! He just likes to sit in the middle of whatever I’m working on, wherever that is. You probably have pets that need your attention, or kids, a ringing door bell, or a spouse who wants you to help them “just for a minute.” But those of us who have the passion to write for the enjoyment of others, somehow find a way, don’t we!
First you must decide on the type of story you want to write, the genre. That will set the tone for how you will write your story. The next step is to decide if you’re a “seat of the pants” type of writer where the storyline, plot and dialogue flow through you to the computer screen or the written page. Perhaps you’re the other kind of writer who needs structure for you to build your story.
My first book, A Shadow Away, came to me the first way. I chewed gum as my mind churned out ideas, but I don’t recommend it. The images came easily, and the characters came to life for me. Their dialogue flowed so quickly, sometimes I had to scramble to keep up! If there was a glitch in the plot, I’d give it some time to unwind itself. And many times, the solution came from the adventurer Alex, eccentric archaeologist Andrew, or even my witch/person Angel herself.
The idea for this kind of story writing is to let your thoughts flow as the story almost seems to write itself. Even this way, though, you must follow the basic rules of story writing. Plot, character development, and a hundred little things that go into the making of a great manuscript are true for every style of writing. There are many books online and in your local bookstore that describe these and everything else you can learn to make your book a success. Do your research! It’s important.
The second way to write a story is with a “Story Board.” I use a white board from an office supply store and magnets to hold my scraps of ideas in place — which I number! One number for each magnet for every step of my story. I paperclip my notes together, too, in case they get knocked off the board. There are four basic plot points to build your story around. Some books say there can be even seven to twelve points and describe the different breakdowns. Choose the layout that works best for you. Plot development is important for both kinds of writers, and with a story board, which is what I use to write now, I can separate the plot point sections with different colored magnets. Works for me!
If you have anything to add or something you’d like to share, please feel free! Have a question? I’d be happy to answer the best I can. See you next week!
You might not think so at first, but research for your book can be fun when you’re finding out about something you’re interested in. This kind of research isn’t the same as preparing a required project for the classroom. This is information that can inspire an idea for your story or provide deeper knowledge on a subject you already know something about.
I write fantasy fiction, and have always been fascinated by myths and legends, so I was drawn to write a magical adventure about El Dorado. I love magic and sorcerers, so I weave them into my stories too. The important thing is to write about what interests you, something you already are familiar with or have experienced yourself. Those make the best stories.
As you go further along with your research, ideas for characters to play the parts in your story may start coming to mind. Write down what you know about them. Let them tell you their story. It helps to flesh out your characters with personal bits of background information. Where do they live? What kind of lifestyle do they enjoy? What kind of personal traits or characteristics do they have? Make them come alive to you, and they will to your readers.
For example, the lead character in my series Alex Cort Adventures started out basically as me. I love adventure, and so does he. He comes from a background similar to mine, though yours don’t have to. Alex enjoys working on cases linked to myths and legends with eccentric British archaeologist Andrew Seaton, because I can combine my interests in science and archaeology with Alex’s love of adventure. See? It’s easy!
Over the years I’ve studied, and traveled, and met interesting people. Even in your own town or city you will see people who would make excellent (disguised) characters for your story. Be kind, if you use actual people for your inspiration.
The third character in my ensemble (mine are all fictional, born in my vivid imagination) is a young woman with her own kind of magic. Her name is Angel, because she calls herself a witch, and most people don’t equate angels with witches. With Angel I get to add magic and sorcery, dragons and mythical creatures, other dimensions, and quantum physics, and all those things of the metaphysical world that fascinate me.
Just get started! The rest will come to you. Don’t worry it has to be perfect the first time. Your story will grow and change, and so will you.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.