Beginning a New, Fresh Story: What to Do… What NOT to Do…

As we start a brand new year–in all its spanking-shiny-clean glory–what better topic to talk about than starting a fresh, new story as well.

A new year spreads out before us like a blank canvas, just waiting to be filled with our dreams, life-events, memorable pictures, and precious family times. A new story is the same way. Blank pages just begging to be filled with the most incredible words you’ve ever written. Words that – to the reader – can change lives, making them laugh or cry, and words that make them want the story to go on forever.

So how do you do that? Start a fresh, new story? This is a question we’ve heard a lot as we teach at conferences. In 2018, I have at least five stories that are contracted and need to be told. This past year, I had four. I feel like I’m always writing a new story, brainstorming a new story, researching a new story, or editing a new story. (Sometimes all four at the same time.)  I love it, but yes, there needs to be a bit of a system to make it all work.

For me, I’m extremely organized and I rely greatly on my crit partners. The four of us that make up The Write Nook have worked together for many years. We brainstorm together and pray for each other. Then, when the story begins to fill the pages, I need them to help me fine-tune it and show me where it’s not working. I couldn’t do this without Darcie, Becca, and Kayla. My co-author Tracie Peterson has taught me a lot over the years and so I’m going to share with you things that I’ve learned from my TWN group here and also from other great authors like Tracie. It’s going to be intense and you’ll need to take lots of notes, so be prepared.

Are you ready? Okay. Deep breath. Let’s dive in.

Beginning a New, Fresh Story: What to DO!

  1. Write a synopsis (yes, for the WHOLE story. Don’t complain. Just do it.)
  2. Then write a long synopsis (chapter by chapter or scene by scene is great – if you want to avoid writer’s block, this is the way to do it. If you think of yourself as a seat of the pants writer rather than a plotter, tell yourself that you’re still being “seat of the pants” as you write the synopsis if it makes you feel better. Either way, you have to write a synopsis. Why not do it well and save yourself a bunch of heartache later on?)
  3. Research, research, research (do this BEFORE you write – then you will only have to do a little research along the way.)
  4. Write, write, write. The whole story. Get it out on paper. (It’s best to give yourself a deadline if you don’t have one from a publisher. Then stick to it.)

Beginning a New, Fresh Story: What NOT to do!

  1. Do NOT go back and edit yourself to death. It’s best to get the story out first – otherwise, you may not finish. (Give yourself permission to edit when you’ve finished.)
  2. Do NOT allow yourself to put the story aside for weeks or months on end. (See #4 in the To Do list)
  3. Do NOT allow yourself to make excuses. (This is hard work, people. Stop making excuses. Do it.)
  4. Do NOT give up.

I know, I know, it’s a lot to take in. Wait… actually it’s not. Wow. That wasn’t very hard, now was it?

Hmmm… so why don’t you go start that new story? 2018 is just waiting for it…

We’re cheering you on!

With pen to paper,



One thought on “Beginning a New, Fresh Story: What to Do… What NOT to Do…

  1. I’ll add one more don’t – or maybe it’s better as a do. Don’t write what’s popular – Do write the story that’s on your heart. When I got started I wanted to write Christian romance and everybody said, “Don’t do that, it’ll never be popular. Just write romance and tone down the sexual content.” But that wasn’t my heart. I wanted to write as a ministry so I just started writing and putting what I’d written into files, hoping one day I would connect with a publisher who wanted to publish Christian romance. And that was exactly what happened. Barbour Publishing decided to start a book club with 4 novels a month of – yup you guessed it – Christian romance, both historical and contemporary. I had a ton of novels in various stages of ready to go and got a ton of contracts right from the start. If you feel called to write something – then don’t worry about what the rest of the world is doing – write it!

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