What are some good tips for getting started with writing a book? I have a concept but i can't put it into place.
Getting Started with Your Story
There’s no one way to start writing a book. For some people, it’s enough to just jump in and start writing to see where the story takes them. If you’re not too keen on that idea, then here is oneprocess (as in, not theonlyprocess) that might help you move beyond your concept.
Concept ≠ Plot
Many writers mistake concept for plot, but they’re actually two very different things. A world where everyone grows up with superpowers is a concept; the plot is what you decide to write about within that concept - the specific characters and what happens to those characters; who your antagonist is and what conflict arises when that antagonist goes after what they want. All of these things contribute to your plot.
So first, define what it is you actually have at this particular point. Do you just have a concept? If so, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to develop that concept into a plot.
Concept >>> Plot
If you’ve decided that all you really have is a concept, then how do you take it and turn it into a plot? You brainstorm. All brainstorming really amounts to is expanding your ideas. All you’re doing is asking questions about the concept and delving deep into the answers.
The most simplistic way to start this process, especially if you’re struggling, is to ask one of two questions (or both, if applicable). These two questions: What could go wrong? What could go right?
Going back to my example about a world where everyone grows up with superpowers. If I were to ask the question “what could go wrong,” I’d end up with a whole list of possibilities.
The powers suddenly disappear
People start abusing their powers
Someone figures out how to steal powers
A hierarchy of strong vs. weak powers develops, creating superiority/inferiority dynamics
Someone is born without a superpower
There are many more possibilities I didn’t even think of here, but any one (or more) of these could become a plot. Choose one that sounds interesting, and then ask yourself “and then what?”
Say I choose: Someone figures out how to steal powers. Then what does that person do? Do they recruit people to do the dirty work for them? Do they work alone? Do they hoard these powers and barter them for other goods? Do they attempt to enslave people? Do they attempt to take control of institutions? What do they do?
Your goal is to take your ideas and turn them into actions taken by characters. People doing things. And each piece you add will usually lead into another. If you went with the idea that this character is stealing powers and essentially selling them for other goods, you’d have to ask yourself follow-up questions. First, who are they selling to? Why would anyone buy a new superpower if they already have one? What uses would they have for additional ones? What is the key demographic that this person is trying to reach? Secondly, what are they selling them in exchange for? Money? Favors? Souls? What is this character getting in return?
Now that you’ve examined potential actions that the character takes, you’ve also exposed potential new characters.
People they’re stealing from
People they’re bargaining with
People that try to police these crimes
People that try to copy this character’s process
At the beginning of this section, I talked about using “what could go right” as another optional jumping off point. This is a good path to follow if your concept is already really negative. For a concept where someone is killing people for some pointed reason, you might ask “what could go right” and explore ideas where the killer is caught and brought to justice.
The point of all this is to think about change as a means of taking your idea from concept to plot. A concept is static - it doesn’t move, evolve, or change. By developing a plot, you’re forcing the concept to be challenged in some way. If you think about it that way, you’ll be able to formulate conflicts, and the people that orchestrate and fight against those conflicts.
On that note, I think we’re ready to move onto the third piece of my graphic above.
Plot = Character Actions and Consequences
At this point, you have sketches for characters. You’ve got this nameless, faceless person that is stealing the powers, and all these other nameless, faceless people that I listed above. In essence, we have character concepts. And just like we turned our initial concept into a plot, we have to turn these character concepts into actual characters.
The basics are the easiest way to start. You figure out their name, their gender identity, their age, their appearance, some brief backstory and personality traits. I personally prefer the simplest questionnaire that I put together back in the early days because it hits on the poignant pieces of a character without overwhelming you with 100s of questions.
Now that you’ve given your character concepts names and faces and potential behaviors, you start to consider how one character’s view of the world inspires them to take certain actions, and you then think about how those actions affect your entire story.
We already kind of talked about the motives of the power thief in our example, but definitely delve deep here. On the surface, this character seems bad - stealing from people and then selling what they steal. But depending on what it is they’re getting in return, could we not argue that this character is a supernatural Robin Hood? Maybe instead of selling, they’re giving, and maybe the characters they’re stealing powers from are people that abuse and misuse their powers. Character motives can take a plot and turn it on its head, forcing you to reconceptualize everything. And that’s okay! That’s part of the process.
But separate from that idea, if we have a character concept of someone whose powers were stolen, and after developing their basic backstory, we discover that person’s name is Rose, and she has an especially close relationship with her brother. So when her powers are stolen, how does this affect her life? Was she using her powers to keep her brother alive and protected? What she using them to keep a roof over their heads? Was she using them as part of her job, as a means of providing? What happens to her life when her powers are stolen? And what will Rose do about it? Whatever Rose does will impact the story. If she does nothing to get her powers back, how does she solve her problems and does that make for a good story? If she does decide to act, then you’ve moved onto a new plot point to dive deeper into.
My point is, character concepts come from plots, but characters themselves often create plot, as their decisions and mistakes and successes create new outcomes. So if I could modify my original flow chart:
Before you develop something, you conceptualize it. You have a concept, then you make it a plot. You have concepts for characters, then you make them characters. And those characters end up driving your plot, to the point that this happens:
Plot inspires character. Character inspires plot. And it just keeps going around and around and around. Breaking it down into these pieces helps organize the process, but developing a story is rarely this neat and tidy. You’ll get ideas that don’t make sense, ideas that aren’t cohesive, characters you don’t need, characters that piss you off, problems you can’t solve, or plot points you’ve committed to that you no longer like…it will be messy. But it’s your mess, and the more you work on developing your own process, the more it’ll make sense to you. And it’ll become easier to know how to go about fixing it when something’s not right.
Have fun with this process! It’s supposed to be fun. When the pieces start to become clearer, you’re able to put them together in a rough outline. And once you have a rough outline, you can start writing, and really see it take shape.
Yuri and Otabek go on a date to the zoo. Yuri takes a picture of Otabek doing a roar pose next to the bear and it’s so cute that Yuri posted it on his insta. It immediately got a lot of attention. Also other skaters joking and going “Otabek in his natural habitat with his family”
I made this after the whole “ugly list” thing. When I brought this up to Misha, he started laughing and said “That’s a great list, I approve!” And signed it. He’s a beautiful and amazing human being who deserves the world please protect my son.
Omg ??// those time travel fics are so good ??/ would you happen to have more recommendations?
Hi! I have gotten so many requests to update my list, but there are so many I’m just going to make a whole ’nother list! You can find my first list here!
Time Travel AU (Part 2)
Standard Deviationsby JustBeHappy, Teen, 82k Victor knew something was wrong when he woke up. Firstly, Yuuri wasn’t by his side in bed. Secondly, the wallpapers weren’t supposed to be blue. LOVE!
News Travels Fast by TheSecretUchiha, Gen, 1.3k In which time travel happened but there is no mention of time travel and Viktor and Yuuri like to surprise people, especially reporters. THIS IS SO GOOD
Turn Back the Clockby IronScript, Teen, 52k (WIP) When Yuuri and Viktor wake up over thirty years in the past, they don’t know what to do. Does the other remember? Luckily that particular question is quickly answered and they can relax slightly, but what about afterwards? Viktor was brought back to right before his first Olympics, and Yuuri isn’t even old enough to compete in Seniors’! Great fic!
The Switch by BoredPerson69, Teen, 5.3k The Switch was a true mystery to science. Nobody knew how or why it happened, it just did. Soulmate AU!
Maelstrom by feelslikefire, Explicit, 43k Victor Nikiforov is poised to win gold in his fifth consecutive Grand Prix Final. He has the world at his feet, is unparalleled in the sport–right up until a snowstorm blows into Sochi, and he finds himself repeating the same day over and over and over. He stumbles over Yuuri Katsuki, and everything changes. Time loop AU! One of my all-time favourite fics!
And I Will Try to Fix You by Dawn on ICE (Dawn_Blossom), Teen, 19k 16 year old Victor Nikiforov may be lonely, but he isn’t sure how getting thrust into the future to live with his older self and his older self’s fiancé is going to help anything. Oh, and the 16 year old version of his older self’s fiancé is there, too. Thumbs up!
of whispering lights and empty ice rinks by nauti, Gen, 12k One would think that everything would calm down after Yuuri won the Onsen on Ice event. It was supposed to be his year; he was going to be training with his long time idol turned coach and he was back in Japan with his family. Everything was looking up for Katsuki Yuuri. That is, until a stranger that looks exactly like him, but older appears in the middle of the rink after a bright flash of light. SUCH a great fic!
counterclockwise by viktyuuri (Empress_Arisu), Teen, 4.9k (WIP) Life after retirement, Yuuri thinks, is quite a nice change of pace. Although, not so much when he finds himself thrust back into the past. In which married husbands Viktor and Yuuri somehow end up 5 years in the past without knowing how or why. I love Victor in this asjhdlsjflk
Future Self by fishydip, Gen, 5.2k Soulmates AU where one day, at random you wake up in your own body, except in the future after you have already met and fallen in love with your soulmate. you get a random amount of time to spend as your future self to learn more about them. Another great soulmate/time travel AU!
Stammi Vicinoby Mairieux, Teen, 2.5k Katsuki Yuuri, unable to sleep due to being wracked with nerves and anxiety, finally passes out in his hotel room the night before his first grand prix final. And when he wakes up? He has no idea why he’s suddenly sleeping so close to a mop of silver hair. So cute!
A Minute or a Year by I_have_problems, Teen, 8.7k (WIP) One minute Yuuri and Viktor are enjoying their offseason while planning their wedding the next both of them are thrown three years into the past and are left to find one another again. Angsty but worth it!!
Tiger Stripes and Smartphones by vivi1138, Teen, 24k In the glorious year 2004, the famous Victor Nikiforov owns a Nokia3510 and is very proud to be the only one at school who got rid of his monochrome mobile phone. So, where is his precious device when he wakes up in an unfamiliar room and finds an expensive smartphone filled with pictures of someone who looks exactly like him… but older? Rec’d by a follower!
1- Who is the most affectionate? 2-Big spoon/Little spoon? 3-Most common argument? 4-Favorite non-sexual activity? 5-Who is most likely to carry the other? 6-What is their favorite feature of their partner’s? 7-What’s the first thing that changes when they realize they have feelings for the other? 8-Nicknames? & if so, how did they originate? 9-Who worries the most? 10-Who remembers what the other one always orders at a restaurant? 11-Who tops? 12-Who initiates kisses? 13-Who reaches for the other’s hand first? 14-Who kisses the hardest? 15-Who wakes up first? 16-Who wants to stay in bed just a little longer? 17-Who says I love you first? 18-Who leaves little notes in the other’s one lunch? (Bonus: what does it usually say?) 19-Who tells their family/friends about their relationship first? 20-What do their family/friends think of their relationship? 21-Who is more likely to start dancing with the other? 22-Who cooks more/who is better at cooking? 23-Who comes up with cheesy pick up lines? 24-Who whispers inappropriate things in the other’s ear during inappropriate times? 25-Who needs more assurance? 26-What would be their theme song? 27-Who would sing to their child back to sleep? 28-What do they do when they’re away from each other? 29-one headcanon about this OTP that breaks your heart. 30-one headcanon about this OTP that mends it.
Imagine an AU where Stiles is the son of the President but he has a tendency to slip away from his guard, Peter, and run away to get himself into danger and mischief - drinking and partying at nightclubs or running the street and getting involved in shenanigans. One day at the local night club, he meets a super hot guy and starts grinding with him only to be interrupted by a gorgeous man that could only be described as godlike. His original dance partner leaves to get drinks and returns with one for Stiles. Stiles drinks it and heads off, only making it as far as the alleyway before realising his drink was roofied. Her first dance partner returns only to be fought off by the other guy. Stiles doesn’t remember anything else, he only remembers waking up in a strange bed to the smell of sausages. When he makes his way out into the lounge room of the apartment he sees the other guy he was dancing with, the god-like beauty, now dressed in a tight-fitting Henley and a pair of jeans. The man introduces himself as Derek, ex marine who served his time in Iraq and stepped in to help Stiles last night. The two grow closer, meeting at a lot of parties and secret hook ups. Then one day, at a gala, a mad man with a gun attacks and Stiles and Derek are rushed out the back exit. Stiles is ushered into a car but Derek stops, picks up a walkie talkie and says the two words that break Stiles’ heart: “Miguel secured.” He shuts the door and Stiles is driven to safety, now knowing the man he trusted (and maybe even loved) had lied to him. Derek was part of the Secret Service all along.