I feel like a carnival barker when I talk about writing. Like a snake oil salesperson. “Step right up and sit right down and you—I say you—can write a novel.” I tell people some version of that in workshops and when I’m on panels at conferences. I believe it, too. If I can do it, you can do it.
But just as in writing, telling isn’t always convincing. Showing is the way to go. Showing is just the ticket. The golden ticket. And I’m here today to show you how easy it is to write not just a novel, but anything at all, with my uncomplicated, illustrated, enumerated, encapsulated, oversimplified infographic guide to writing anything at all. Mixed metaphors included at no additional charge.
1. Start with a bare bone of an idea. If you’re writing a mystery, your story might literally start with bones or a body.
|Bones in my window seat|
2. Mix your ingredients to form the cohesive dough of whatever it is you’re writing, knead to develop the glutens of it, and watch it rise.
|Bread dough rising on my kitchen counter|
3. Your work started out like a tiny flower bud. Now, with all your time, attention, and concerted effort, your work—and you—have blossomed!
|Peonies blooming out my side door|
Like a snake oil salesperson, I’ve probably glossed over a few details and may have left out bits of information that some might deem vital. For instance, have you ever looked closely at a bare bone?
|Close-up of bones in my window seat|
Bones are intricate. They’re fascinating. And a framework of bones—a skeleton—is miraculous for what it can do. If you’re so inclined, you might build a skeleton for your writing in progress, and you might call that an outline. Do you need an outline? No, but it’s a process that many writers find valuable. Others don’t. There’s no right or wrong. There’s only the way that works for you.
The actual nitty gritty of writing could be a book all on its own. There are plenty of those out there and I’ll put a list of some of my favorites at the end of this post. Some of the books are aimed at children, but that’s good. People who write good nonfiction for children make the information they’re trying to get across accessible and relatable.
So, there you go—bone, bread, blossom, book. If I can do it, you can too.
A short, very short bibliography of writing manuals:
Writing Radar; Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories, by Jack Gantos
My Weird Writing Tips, by Dan Gutman
On Writing; A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
Stein on Writing; A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft, Techniques, and Strategies, by Sol Stein
Do you have a favorite book on writing? If so, pop it in a comment below.
Molly MacRae writes the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest and connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.