Just Write

Using a book as your how-to textbook.

Choose a book you like and in the genre you want to write as your how-to-write manual.

For example, Maiden Voyage, a memoir by Tania Aebi:

Aebi starts her story on her 37th day at sea, at a point when she is terrified. Rather than give us the back story of how all this began, she starts at a high action point.

She describes her immediate situation: Because of strong winds and choppy waves, she hasn’t been able to eat, sleep, relax, or think.

We get the sense of imminent danger. And then, to build suspense and tension, she reveals, “The weather can only get worse.”

We hear a little about her emotional and mental state. She wants to go home to her family. ALL this, on the first page.

Still on page 1, we get a “visual” – seeing her as she gets into her foul weather gear. There is action. She’s doing something about her immediate situation—she can’t change the weather nor sea conditions, but she is capable and we get a sense of history—she’s been sailing for quite a while. With this information, there is a slight moving away from the immediate situation, as if the camera is moving back a little, giving a broader perspective, or a wider range of view.

Your turn:  Get a copy of a book you like and you don’t mind writing in. Either underline or  highlight places where there is action, dialogue, narration. You can use a different color for each category. Note how much narration is used versus dialogue versus action.

If the book you want to write is contemplative, there will be more narration, or hearing the main character’s thoughts.

If your book is a suspense/action book, of course there will be more action scenes.

If it’s a mystery book, there may be more dialogue.

These are some ideas for you. The main thing is: Just Write!

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