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Hi I'm new here and obviously I'm also just a beginner in writing a story. Actually, I'm gonna try to write a fictional story. So I will just ask if how do you start writing a story? Of course, this is more specific. MS Word? Notes? Can you give me an example where do you start? It'll help me a lot!

NOTE: I'm just new here so I'll understand if Downvotes started to score down this post, but please leave a comment if you want to improve my question especially if this is off-topic. Or you can also edit the question if you want. Thanks guys!

closed as too broad by Mark Baker, user5645, Lauren Ipsum, Neil Fein Feb 10 '17 at 19:34

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    If your question is related to the tools employed (paper, Word, etc.), please make it clearer in the title. Now it's too vague, and it can be interpreted in many ways, such as "how do you get ideas", etc. – FraEnrico Feb 10 '17 at 8:16
  • Welcome to Writers. Have cast the final close vote because this question is pretty broad - you'll see that the answers are all over the place, addressing different aspects of the issues. It also has no specific answer - it's a poll, asking people what they do, and would be better off on a discussion forum than here. Please do stick around, though; I suspect as you get started you'll run up against specific problems that'll make for good questions gere. – Neil Fein Feb 10 '17 at 19:37
  • @FraEnrico thanks for noticing. Edited the question recently. – Invoker Feb 11 '17 at 9:30
  • @NeilFein thanks for noticing. Edited the question recently. – Invoker Feb 11 '17 at 9:30
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Some of the best writing tools out there are the following:

  • Microsoft Word, an all-purpose writing tool that can be used for drafts, notes, or final formatting.
  • Scrivener, a drafting tool that is used to efficiently create your initial draft using an in-depth set of tools for taking down ideas and quickly accessing them as well as plan your story easily.
  • Google Docs, a free tool that can be used for not only notes but act as a drafting tool with automatic cloud saving.

In terms of starting to write, the following steps may help.

  1. Decide on an idea that you want to write about. Is it fantasy? Sci-fi? Historical? What era is it set in? What will the world be like?
  2. Figure out what your protagonist's aim is. Do they want to avenge a death? Do they want to solve a mystery? Do they want to save the world?
  3. Flesh your ideas, world, and characters out and make connections between them.
  4. Start writing!

Some tips:

  • Don't worry about what you can or can't do, it depends on how you do it and if you can do it effectively to reach the message or idea you want to convey.
  • Set alongside some time every day to write, maybe 1-2 hours a day to get into a habit.
  • Keep a notepad or document to jot down any sudden inspirations you have.
  • Read, read, and keep reading for inspiration and other ideas. Don't worry, almost everything has been done before.
  • Thanks for the advice! I'll try those three recommendations. – Invoker Feb 10 '17 at 5:44
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Evernote is also quite easy to use, especially if you have different documents (world building, characters, plot, backstory, actual story, etc.) and want to keep them together. It uses 'notebooks' which can then keep those different documents in the same place. It is also free and works on-line (in-browser, app, mac/pc-software and synced between devices) and offline as well.

I've switched from Google Docs to Evernote because Google Docs has no offline function (on Mac/Pc) and because I have a lot of different documents like mentioned above. Furthermore, and I may particularly picky here, the actual software runs smoothly, which means a lot to me for some reason.

It does however NOT help you with a logical format like Scrivener does, but it is a good place to start since it is free and keeps things manageable.

Remember that There are no rules, in creative writing. There are guidelines and expectations for different genres, but you don't HAVE to follow all of them or fulfill exact criteria for your work to be accepted. Some genres may be less forgiving than others, but if you want to write about X in some way, do it that way. Don't force an unnatural style or language into your work. It will not be authentic, and authenticity is more important than fancy language. You can't please everyone, but if you find something interesting, others will too.

Warning, personal (in)experience incoming:

Now, I'm aware this might make me unpopular among some of the more experienced reader/writers here: I don't believe you HAVE to read a lot to be able to write.

Let me explain. I am in no way saying that you shouldn't read or that it doesn't help improve your understanding of language use, genres, structure, vocabulary and so on. By all means, if you read and enjoy it, do it! I am however saying that you can capture a reader without having read a lot yourself, if your writing style is interesting and if your story is captivating.

This is my own situation: As a kid, I had trouble reading for more than 5 minutes without almost falling asleep, and as a result I never developed a habit of reading. I also read quite slowly today. I have read probably a small percentage compared to most of the people on this site, but that doesn't stop me from creating a world that people find fascinating, and so far I've received (surprisingly) good feedback for my writing. I don't mean to come off as arrogant and disrespectful to the world of writing or the people on this site, and I'm not saying that I am or will ever be a great writer, but then again I am not motivated by the thought of becoming a world-wide best-seller. Sure, that would be fantastic, but I write what I write because I've thought, brainstormed, discussed, dreamed and felt passionate about this project to a point where I simply can't NOT do it now.

Yes, I feel unsure about many areas of my project that I may have been less unsure of had I read more, but passion kills experience most days.

Main point of this: There's no reason to postpone your own work until you've read x amount of books. If your passion is there, go with it.

Also, this site and its users are awesome.

Best of luck with your writing!

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    +1 for you don't have to read a lot to be able to write. I'm the same way but perhaps for a different reason. I find that reading often pollutes my own ideas and lowers my originality/creativity. – Rapscallion Feb 10 '17 at 11:20
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    Your point about 'polluting' is a concept i recognize in both reading and listening to music (I compose electronic music), and I have found myself in a dilemma between inspiration and pollution. I have listened to music and felt new inspiration in a random direction, but also felt less motivated at times. I have read and understood new concepts / connections and structures, but also felt less motivated about my own work. I have also experienced having trouble relating to something I was reading (The Golden Compass) because it didn't make sense compared to my Sci-Fi world That was odd.. – storbror Feb 10 '17 at 11:30
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    +1 despite strongly disagreeing with "passion kills experience most days". Experience allows passion to reach levels otherwise impossible to achieve. – Sara Costa Feb 10 '17 at 13:48
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    Well, the point was rather that without passion you rarely get far, but as long as you have passion, lack of experience can be dealt with... – storbror Feb 10 '17 at 14:04
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    this is inspiring. you're quite right about reading. Reading is really not my passion. There are some storied that I might likr but not all of them. Sometimes, it feels like I need to read for me to learn and be inspired which is totally wrong. It helps me create imagination, but i'm not always inspired with it. Sometimes I even feel I can't make those kind of stories, high-seller and good ideas, which always feels like I'm down. – Invoker Feb 10 '17 at 23:46
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For collecting facts on my world, persons, places, organisations I also use SimpleMind, an Android app. It gives you a fast overview over the world, and you can add and remove features pretty good.

And since it is an mobile app, I can write my stuff down wherever I am, without the need for my laptop.

For more detailed descriptions and drafting I use Scrivener (there are others, but they're worse) and the final writing is done with Libre Office.

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Tl;dr: The best way to start writing a story is to start writing a story!

The process is different for every writer, so I would first ask you this question:

How do you usually plan any task that you have to do?

E.g. Your house needs cleaning:

  • Do you just roll up your sleeves and tackle the first thing you see?
  • Do you instead put your laundry in the washing machine, because that will take time to complete and you could tidy your room in the meanwhile?
  • Do you have a system of first clearing clutter from surfaces, then cleaning the surfaces themselves before finally working on the floors, because that seems the most logical approach?

My personal recommendation is to do the absolute minimum level of preparation before you can start writing.

Get used to the idea that the first story you write won't be great quality, no matter what your skill level is. You're going to go back and heavily edit your work anyway so don't sweat the mistakes or the sloppiness. Additionally, don't worry too much about the research or the word processor you're using - just get straight into writing.

Trust me when I say that you'll work out all the other details as you write. Conversely, you won't produce anything if you spend all your time planning and not writing.

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I have never been a planner. I hated writing outlines, plot charts, doing diagrams and what ever other tricks teachers made us do in school. I found it to be a complete waste of time for myself. I just wanted to start. I do my best work when I just write. Let the flow of thought and words come out. I don't know what it is that I want to write, but I will know it when I write it. I know the goal, I know the topic I want to do, but the actual writing of the piece is a journey that I go on myself and discover the story as I create it.

  • I am at an odd place here.. I started my story as a projekt more than one and a half year ago and only just started writing the actual story a couple months ago.. I have SO many plot points, connections, characters and twists "planned out" but I realize again and again that I don't know my characters until I write the story, and the story has to progress "logically" around or based on my characters.. it's confusing and amazing. A lot of my time has been spent on world building but even though I have a thorough understanding of my world, my characters still influence the story I thought I knew. – storbror Feb 11 '17 at 1:44
  • @storbror yes. That is why I don't plan things out. I find that most of what I plan rarely gets implemented or if it does, it ends up not flowing because I ended up taking the piece elsewhere. I find that writing by discovery enables everything to stay meaningful because as soon as you get an idea it's a part of the story with that passion and not 3 months later after that idea has come and past. – ggiaquin16 Feb 11 '17 at 1:59
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    @storbror honestly even if I wasn't doing it with a familiar set of characters in a familiar world, I would still take the same approach. Maybe with a sci-fi though I would spend time studying some science theory. Though I love science, I also don't want to be caught making a wrong assumption of a theory. – ggiaquin16 Feb 11 '17 at 2:21
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    I think we understand each other quite well then. ;) – storbror Feb 11 '17 at 2:23
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    Understanding each other is not that same as using the same process or workflow, but sure. I guess I'm a planner with this project at least. – storbror Feb 11 '17 at 2:28

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