After suffering through the tedious hoops of invest in retirement insurance scheme Malaysia, you really need a break. Your worries about the scheme are now over as everything is settled. You look around yourself at home. TV, a laptop or computer, maybe a game console, food. There are lots you can do to reward yourself.
Then while you are reading your favorite book, the lightbulb in your head is turned on. You wanted to write your own story for a while now, and this is your chance. You jump straight to your laptop or computer, turn on Microsoft Word, put your fingers on the keyboard and…nothing.
A jumble of ideas spring across your brain, but your eyes see a blank piece of document and a blinking text cursor. Not even ten minutes later and you are already slamming against writer’s block. Good grief.
Here, allow me to guide you to writing your own story so your fingers can keep themselves busy on the keyboard. It may not be professional writing advice, and the following guidelines are based on my own format, but if you are up to it, nobody is stopping you.
First of all, why do you want to write your own story in the first place? What do you want to write about? An adventure in a cave? A medieval city? A cyberpunk tale?
Deciding a genre and the nutshell of your story are the first thoughts you will harbor in your head. You don’t have to make out the full synopsis yet. It is already enough to think of a pivotal scene, character, setting or prop. From there, you can develop what you thought into a full scene or action, and kick off your ideas from there.
Your first ideas can also emerge from inspirations. Movies, video games, and other books are examples that you can snoop into and see what will prompt you to develop your story further. Though you can probably emulate something from a source, just be careful not to plagiarize it. Put your own twists onto those elements instead.
Other sources like dreams are great sources of inspiration too. If you frequently remember your dreams, why not turn one of them into your own setting or premise?
For example, I dreamt of a large mall where many shoppers and other bizarre characters permanently live. Visitors could come and go like any other mall, but they couldn’t leave late or they, like me, will be trapped there from 11 pm onwards.
It wasn’t because of the exits since they were open, but it was because you can get lost in the complex and certain characters may look for trouble to hinder your escape. Something like a gang fight can be problematic if you stumble upon them.
The concept is barebones, but I can already see the setting I can establish from there. If James Cameron can make The Terminator from one single nightmare, so can you, except you are not holding a camera.
Draft your ideas
Now you get the gist of your story, and maybe you want to start writing a chapter now. Well, not yet anyway.
It is very ideal to jot down your characters, chapter plot, setting, et cetera on an empty document. Outline the scenes by arranging a sequence of events. Draft your character’s appearance and personalities, as well as the settings’ appearances. If you can draw too, that is great. Now you have delicious visuals like concept arts and storyboards to further define your descriptions.
Write what sticks in your head
To further pave the road of writing, you can immediately write out a pivotal moment or scene that is stuck in your head since the beginning of your drafts. Say you want to write a story because you want both characters to fight. Draft and write out that fight scene now.
You not only want to record the best ideas you have for the time being, but when you finish, you may already have established your story. You can make any changes from the first iteration later when you are finally writing in full.
Choose basic formats
There is nothing wrong with experimenting. If you actually manage to pull it off, your unique format is a resounding success among readers. Otherwise, as a new writer, stick to the basic paragraphs. If you can’t write in a unique format, don’t try or you may end up skidding across the roads and crash against the railing. At best, your story will look like a jumbled mess.
Besides, there is one more basic format you can write on. A simple script.
Yep. If you want to be a screenwriter, writing your story in a simple script format is the perfect opportunity to learn how to write a script in general. Dialogues and narratives are separate, and if you want, you can add supposed camera angles and portray how characters feel.
Pretend that you are writing for actors too, since they want to know how exactly they can act out their roles as said characters. But remember this rule.
Show, don’t tell
Even in written form, showing more than telling is still a viable way to convey emotions or actions. In other words, do not tell the obvious.
For example, don’t describe what your character is exactly feeling. She is currently scared, but you can convey better than writing this: “Her heart pumps as fear clouds her judgment. She knows that this man is not what he seems. He must be stopped now. His perverted grin alone confirms her fears.”
Here is a better version.
“Her eyes widened as her heartbeat increased, breathing shakily while she looked at the man with his toothy, wide grin. Suddenly, she drew out her automatic and pump lead into the man’s chest and neck.”
See there? From the description of her bodily gestures alone, you can tell she is afraid of the man, and his intentions are never described. Her sudden reaction also conveys that in her eyes, the man is dangerous and needs to die by her hand for her own safety.
Whether you just finished writing out your full story or checking your ongoing progress, always proofread your work. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, and plot holes too. You better not delete your drafts and notes because you will need them for reference should you need to fix any story inconsistencies.
If you feel that some elements need to be changed, do so, but make sure that they stay consistent with your narrative.
And that is basically it. You finally get your fingers typing and your train of thought moving along the rails. If you are hitting a writer’s block, don’t stress over finishing your story as soon as possible.
Take breaks, get inspired further if you want to. Refresh your ideas, draft down any good new ones on your phone or so, and get back to work when you are ready.