One of the questions I am most often asked is; where do you start when you are writing a book? If we were all back in the classroom and I was Miss Lyons-the-teacher, I would answer with a pert; at the beginning! After all, all good stories have a beginning, middle and end, don’t they?
The problem is, in the grown-up world, sometimes the best stories start with the end. If you want to draw the reader in there is nothing better than a dramatic introduction, where it looks like our hero is about to lose everything he has worked for, or worse still is teetering on the edge of mortal danger. Cut back to how he got into this mess and off you go. You have the makings of a great read. Except the end is the beginning, the beginning is the middle and the middle is the end.
(Are you keeping up at the back of the classroom?)
It doesn’t always work out like this, but it can and sometimes does.
Yet, rather than scare my questioner with such time warped logic, my answer to this question about where to begin is; with a plan!
Some established authors such as Stephen King would argue a plan stifles the creative process, but I would argue strongly that it is a huge help, particularly if you are new to book writing.
Writing a book is not an easy process. But, a well thought-out chapter-by-chapter plan can make it a whole lot less gruelling and overwhelming. It can even make it rather enjoyable because you know exactly what you are trying to say and where you will be saying it.
Without a plan you may find yourself haring off in one direction with great enthusiasm, only to find yourself written into a Cul-de-sac moments later. Apart from the fact you’ll have to do an about turn and begin again, it can be hugely discouraging. If you are aiming for 70,000 to 80,000 words, which is a good length for a non-fiction book, you really don’t want to be put off in the early days. Motivation and momentum are important components of book writing.
A structured plan will act like a map, showing you where to go next and empowering you to write great copy without fearing writer’s block. Your creative forces will be freed to focus on the nub of the story.
It won’t matter if your beginning is in the middle, end or even at the start, you’ll just have the makings of a well-structured, full-bodied and entertaining book.