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Writer Wednesdays: "Where Do I Start?"

The Parliament House Press is full of amazing, creative writers, and we thought it would be fun (and important) to share their tips, tricks and secrets in how to be a writer! You don't have to be 'published' to be considered a successful writer. It all begins with the typing (or writing) of a single word.

Amber Duell, author of the upcoming novel "Dream Keeper," shares her tips on "How to write a book." Take a look!


So many people have asked, “I’d love to write a book but where do I start?” I wish there was a simple answer. The truth is every person starts differently, just like everyone writes their following books differently. It’s about finding what works for you, but I can offer a springboard.

First, do you have an idea about what story you want to write? If not, start brainstorming. Use anything around you for inspiration. There’s an endless supply of writing prompts online if you need help getting the creative juices flowing. Find one (or a few) that resonate with you and then think about how you can make them your own.

Sometimes a character might pop into your head before a plot. Go with it! Dive deeper into that person to learn who they are and what they want. There are character questionnaires online if worksheets are your cup of tea. Once you figure out what they want, brainstorm what’s keeping them from getting it.

Setting will affect the story. Is it a sweeping historical? A sci-fi in space?

What genre will your story be? You don’t have to pinpoint this right now—the book might change once it hits the page anyway—but you’ll want a rough idea. Fantasy? Mystery? They may have different elements you’ll need to include. For example, to be considered romance, it must have a happy ending with the couple together. Also, what age group will you be writing for? A middle grade novel will have different themes than an adult novel. Once you figure out genre and age group, read books already published within them.

You might be a plotter or a pantser. If you’re a pantser, go ahead and dive into chapter one without an outline. If you’re a plotter, there are more ways to outline than I can count. Try a few different ones or smush them into your own method. There’s no right or wrong here, but there are pros and cons to each. The only want to know what works for you is to try.

I know a lot of people recommend craft books, but I personally am going to tell you not to read them yet. When I decided to start writing novels, I bought a bunch of them thinking I would go in a pro (ha!). All it really did was help me procrastinate and put doubts in my head that I wasn’t doing things the “right” way. This is the first draft of your first manuscript so have fun with it! Figure out your voice, your writing style, what works for you and what doesn’t. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can write a book, pick up one on craft and improve.

But the most important advice I can give is to write the story living inside you...

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