Getting Started

Getting started when writing can be the hardest part. No it’s not just you. One of my favourite descriptions is from Bill Lawrence in his excellent BBC Maestro course. He describes writing as “something nice to have finished”. But he also describes it as “staring into the abyss.” It can feel like that at times.

So, where to start. Well hopefully you’re in the right place!

Across this site you will find articles on

  • The basics – what genre & medium you’re writing for which will in turn determine format and length
  • Creating a world – the all important idea and how that relates to character and structure
  • Creating memorable characters and having a balanced cast
  • Plotting and structure and how to drive narrative forward
  • Using words in the final output – action and dialogue
  • Rewriting and editing
  • Psychology and self care

But for getting started, let me dive into some of the best resources out there.

I am going to share my own method for getting something written. I’ll refer to it as the Marson method for shorthand but honestly it’s a collection of advice from a great many writers out there. Obviously I don’t promise it’ll work for you. But I’ll use it here as a thread for you to follow as I visit each of the principles and techniques. You can start that journey here

But first here are my first recommendations of books for your bookshelf.

Getting Started: Books and Articles

Books

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Artist’s Way is an excellent place to start to unlock your creativity. Most of us have been creative at some point in our lives – usually as children – but at some point have packed away our toys and hid our creative, fun, playful side. To be properly creative we need a bit of help to bring that creative side fully back out into the open. Julia Cameron takes us on a gentle, albeit highly spiritual journey to rediscover that playfulness.

Robert McKee’s Story is a must for all storytellers. It’s focussed on film in particular but as we’ll see a film is a good proxy for just any long story. The principles outlined in Story are well worth taking a bit of time to understand and its a massively encouraging read.

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler is a fantastic voyage into the world of (western) story. Based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Vogler’s template for story became the Hollywood bible (some might say formula) that is still being used to this day. His theory, much like McKee’s, is that story itself is universal – we all understand intrinsically what a good story is and isn’t. It’s well worth a read. I find it hugely inspirational.

Articles

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