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Writing Tips: How to Start Writing a Book or Story

Updated on February 7, 2017
Its nearly NaNoWriMo time can you find your story and write it down in 30 days. NaNoWriMo runs from 1st-30th November.
Its nearly NaNoWriMo time can you find your story and write it down in 30 days. NaNoWriMo runs from 1st-30th November.

Getting Started

The first thing you need is an idea. Now I expect most of you reading this will have an idea of the story they would like to write in their head. If not and you are looking for inspiration on that front then there are many ways for you to do this.

  • Read Newspapers for interesting stories and check up on bestseller lists.
  • Search the Internet for interesting stories
  • Read Published Books. (Short Fiction is a great start, as it can get you thinking about how to expand the story into novel format. It also helps you learn how to tell a story in 100's instead of thousands of words.)
  • Spend some time looking in bookshops and your local library. Ask about what books sell/ get lent out the most. (This will give you an idea of what people want to read.
  • Take a good look at the world around you, you will be surprised at the amount of inspiration you will find.
  • Look at photos, Paintings and Digital Art. These can really get your mind working out a story of what is actually going on in the image.

There is a great website for Fantasy and SF prompts and inspiration. Seventh Sanctum is a place for Fantasy and SF writers and RPG Game Makers to go and find an idea. It is full of great and useful random generators for names, places, weapons, magic and even full story prompts.

As I lay and look up at the stars The beauty of the night sky The stars that shine above me. My mind wanders And I wonder About what could be out there Are we alone in the universe? Or are there others out there Looking up from their world And wonder
As I lay and look up at the stars The beauty of the night sky The stars that shine above me. My mind wanders And I wonder About what could be out there Are we alone in the universe? Or are there others out there Looking up from their world And wonder


Once you have the seed of your idea in your head its time to get it on paper and then plan things out.

Work out how much time you have spare that you can spend writing your story.

Planning can be done in your head as you do your daily chores, while you are sat on a bus or train, or anywhere for that matter. You only need to sit down to get it on paper.

The planning phase is where you write about your characters, give them a life before the story and get to know them yourself. It is also the time to think about the locations in your stories, where they are, what they are like etc.

Write out character profiles that you can look upon later as they can be useful if you get stuck on what that character would do in a situation that you put them in.

Write out location descriptions. Try to make them vivid, because when you come to writing about the locations in the story you need to show the reader what it is like not just tell them.

In fantasy stories a Map is a great tool and is a great way to plan out your world. There are Hubs by others that will help you with that. Links are below.

This recolored image takes me to a post apocalyptic world.
This recolored image takes me to a post apocalyptic world.

Starting the Story

This is where the fun begins. You need to gather all your work from your planning time and get it in order. You are going to need hours of quiet time on your own to get the story written. It can be hard if you have a family but the end result is rewarding. Find a spot to work. If you have a study this is perfect, but anywhere with a desk or just wherever your computer is will be fine as long as it's quiet.

Alien World?
Alien World?

First Draft

Now the Story Begins. This is where you just write and get your story on paper or on the screen. At this point there is no need to worry about Spelling or Grammar, you just need to get your story out.

How to start the Story. (Plot)

The first thing you should do is set the scene and introduce the main character. A great way to begin a story is to start with action that will get the reader hooked. But don't worry to much about this in your first draft.

Below is an early draft of a story that starts with an action scene before introducing one of the main characters.

As the ESS Destiny pulled into orbit around the large earth like planet they were scheduled to survey, a dark ship appeared and started firing on them without warning.
’Red Alert! All command staff report to the Battle Command Center‘ came the voice over the ship wide intercom. The Ship's command crew left their posts and headed for the Battle Command Center.

Within seconds of the Red Alert sounding, the Destiny took a direct hit from an energy weapon that ripped through the shields and took out the front of the ship. Major Lambert tried to dive out of the way as his wall mounted computer fell towards him bringing the wall with it. He was too late and vanished under a mass of rubble. Before the bridge crew had chance to react the viewing wall ripped open and they were sucked out into suffocating vacuum of space.


Lt. Colonel Johnston awoke with a start as he was flung out of bed by the force of the explosion. 'What the!?' he said out loud as he skidded across his quarters, banging his head against the shower room's metal door . As he came to his senses he heard the final part of a ship wide alert before glancing over to his desk to see that his computer screen was flashing red. His eyes focused on the words that had appeared on the screen. 'RED ALERT all command crew report to the Battle Command Center we are under attack from an unknown enemy.' He grabbed his uniform and started to get dressed as he barged out of his quarters and headed down the corridor. He pulled on his clothing, trying not to trip as he ran.

Extract from The End is Just the Beginning by Amy Laverick (BrutishSpoon, Nish Laverz)

It is this first draft phase that NaNoWriMo is all about. You have 30 days to write a story an so there is no real time to do anything else to it. Finishing and refining can be done at a later date.

Have you ever wished you could write a book?

See results

Images in This Hub

The images in this hub have been placed there for inspiration. Please feel free to write a story if they inspire you to do so. All I ask is that you publish it here or somewhere else on the web and leave a link in the comments box bellow.

If you are interested in how I created the image above then take a look at the links below.


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