THERE ARE MANY considerations in fiction writing, and many books on how to
address them. But in the beginning, I keep it simple. I just sit down and write my story
as if I were writing a letter, with each letter becoming a chapter. I start with an idea,
a situation, and let the characters carry me forward as they act out their lives. I don’t
attempt to outline the story in advance. How can I possibly know where the people in my
story are going to take me?
After the first draft I go back and start editing, tying up loose ends, removing
inconsistencies, and adding new thoughts and actions. At some point I feel I’ve told the
story the best I can and stop editing.
Non-fiction writing is just the opposite. I can and do outline, because I’m taking
a subject I know about and condensing it into a particular parcel of knowledge or
information. I know at the outset what I want to convey to the audience, and an outline
helps me to stay focused.
In either category of writing, just trust yourself to get your story down on paper first.
Once your words exist as a draft, you will find the editing process will add depth and
polish beyond anything you could have imagined when you started. JG, August 2012