How do you do it?

by Mark Patrick

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Posted by MarkPatrick

How do you invent your stories?

AHHH! What a terrible question. The answer is, ‘I don’t know.’

True. The same as all novelists I start with a blank sheet of paper – it is unimportant whether the paper is real or virtual. The important thing is that it is blank: no words, no ideas, no plot – nothing.

So what happens then?

Dimly, in the back of my mind, there is a ‘thought’. It can be a phrase, a scene, or even a whole story – but it is always bare. It is the skeleton, the basic idea.

And next?

Once the idea has congealed in my mind, I write, more or less, the last chapter. This gives me a point at which to aim. The finishing point. The end. So many writers finish a book with questions still pendant. That is okay if there is a sequel planned, but if it is a one off it is not fair on the reader.

And then?

Then is the hard work: I write, rewrite, then write again. I cut scenes, add scenes, destroy a whole idea, but finally, I get down to the basic plot, sub-plot, and characterization I like.

After about a year – maybe six months if I’m not working on the day job, I have a book. BUT NO!!! It hasn’t been edited, or even revised by other authors.

So then?

So then is the agonizing time. You receive criticism from your peers – and it hurts!!! Even if it is constructive criticism, it is not really welcome. However, you read it and sometimes, once in a while, you even adapt the book to the criticism received.

Of course, you always have to right to reject everything – but to be honest, it is better to, at least, consider the criticism offered.

And publishing?

Publishing is easy these days – however marketing is a nightmare.



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I never thought of writing the last chapter first. I might have to try that. I usually like to take an idea and let it take me in the direction it wants to go.

I decided to step outside my comfort zone, and for my next book, I let my Twitter audience make title suggestions and then I had them vote on the top four that I liked. I already have basic notes on the story plot but haven't written anything yet. So, maybe an ending is a good start.


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