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  • Writer's pictureChris Malburg

How To Start Writing Your Book

Now that Man of Honor is scheduled for publication on December 15, I've already moved on to my next project. People often ask how do I start writing a thriller. There's no magic formula. They taught me in writers school to begin by writing--capture the story. Don't worry about logic or order, or characters. Just get the story down. I like this method. But I add a few preliminary steps. Even though my four thrillers feature terror-based conspiracies on a global scale, they're actually character driven. I begin by getting to know my characters. The image staring at you right now is my perception of Barbara Williams, the main character in my upcoming, Barbara Anne's Slider. Two of my books were inspired by songs. So it seems is Slider. The song is Surfin' Safari by the Beach Boys. The happy, summery, bouncy pace of this song epitomizes Barbara. It sets the tone of the book. I hear it often.

My next step is getting to know my character. I want her history, her background, her family, successes, failures (especially her failures), I want to know her dreams and most importantly the flaws that make her human and relate-able. With this bio I can now predict her logical behavior in the variety of situations that she'll face thruout the book.

Now I'm ready for story capture. I like organization; work best with some sort of structure. So I identify the main scenes in the story. I write them down in outline form. With the scenes identified I can place them in the proper sequence that best tells the story. From the scenes come the rest of the cast of characters. I create them as needed to move the story forward. For major characters I'll write their bio so I know them and how they'll logically behave in different situations. The supporting cast gets a few tells in their character so readers will know them and place them in the scene.

It's decision time. I look at different points of view and first person vs. third person. Maybe I'll write one or two scenes both ways before making a decision. Who is telling this story and from what point of view is one of my biggest decisions. in Slider the story is about Barbara but it's being told in the first person by someone else who's close enough and so deeply involved with her that he provides credible narrative.

Now I begin writing the scenes. This is the creative part. It goes fast because I'm not worrying about literary perfection--just filling in the scenes.

So that's how I start a thriller. For me it's logical, organized, and ensures I don't waste time wondering down a wrong road that ultimately winds up on the cutting room floor. I was told in writers school that writing is not efficient. Nonsense. Time is precious. My goal is to be the most efficient writer I can be--one who meets his deadlines on time and on budget.


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