Making Your Imagination Come Alive on Paper

The hardest part about writing is the beginning. Where do you start? When do you write? When do you edit? How do you know if your story is free of grammatical errors? Why is my story so short on paper? How do you write a book? These are questions every single writer has asked at one point in their life. The truth is, there are no magical answers. Every writer encounters writer’s block at one time or another. To begin, the best place to write is where your story originally began in your mind. Even if you started your story in the middle, begin with that and develop your other ideas around it. Typically my stories start out with something like, “Eliza Blake leaned forward in the saddle and embraced the wind whipping through her hair as she galloped through the north pasture.” Then, I would develop the plot I had in mind. That way, I didn’t start my story introducing a character with a name, date, and life situations, or in a boring way that would immediately turn off the interest of my reader. Those things come later as you continue developing your plot. However, time and time again, my story would resolve with a word count incredibly less than I had originally intended. I wondered how authors could write a four hundred page book and the story only detail a week or two of the character’s life. Then it hit me. Think of a day in your life. You go places, have conversations–however pointless they may be–and do things that no one would necessarily remember. If you are striving to make a character come alive, they must do the same things. From early morning banter with siblings, to an encounter with an acquaintance in the grocery store, you have to detail out their days fully. The scene below is a way to add length to your book, and really make your characters come alive as they struggle with some of the same things your reader’s may be struggling with. Make your characters relatable.

Elizabeth groaned as she lay in bed staring at the ceiling. When would she finally be able to close her eyes and fall into a blessed sleep? The conversation she had with her father kept replaying in her head with no end in sight. Had she handled it right? She thought back to every single word that was spoken, and every single facial expression she had shown. He had shouted, “Ever since your mom died, you’ve been worthless and a loser! You are nothing!” She had been too overwhelmed with emotion to respond clearly, instead focusing on shrinking the choking lump in her throat, and keeping her burning eyes dry only by force of will. She had been shaking so badly. Self-loathing hit her like a tidal wave as she rolled over in bed once more. Why did she have to be so scared of him? Why couldn’t she stand up to him? Why couldn’t she have shouted back the hateful responses that now came to mind such as, “Well your mom never died so what’s your excuse for the loser you’ve become?” Maybe she should have lashed out, but she couldn’t. Her pain was so deep, her wounds so open that she could only absorb the pain as the knife twisted deeper in her heart. Silent tears rolled down her temples and soaked her pillow as she remembered what life once was when she was younger. Before her father turned to alcohol and women, before her mother had become ill, before she had become broken and her heart shattered; they had been happy. As her chest tightened, and her tears fell faster, she curled into a ball to protect herself from the pain that felt as if someone was scraping her wounds with sandpaper. Would she ever know what happiness felt like again? 

Don’t get too focused on things that don’t matter!

When writing, don’t focus on grammar or editing. Get your words onto the paper as fast as they will flow. Most author’s hire an editor before their book is published, so don’t get caught up in commas, semi-colons, or the various forms of words. Allow your creativity to spill for as long as possible. The final thing I’ll discuss is writer’s block. I can write a book to thirty, fourty, or fifty pages, and it suddenly seems like an elephant fell atop my creativity and squashed it for good. This has occurred countless times, and it has made me seriously contemplate chucking my laptop out my second story window! I would think I was getting close, and my creativity would shut off like someone flipped a switch. What I found most helpful in these times was an outline. When your story first comes to mind and your inspiration is strong, sit down and write the plot. What is the main conflict of the story, what is the climax, what is the resolution? Develop your characters in paragraph form. For example, Elizabeth is a twenty year old lady standing five foot five inches with auburn hair, jaded hazel eyes, an average build, an active imagination, and–she’s full of secrets. Her favorite color is blue and she loves going for long drives. She doesn’t feel she is very understood, except by her two closest friends, and she loves food. Elizabeth enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, journaling, and hanging out with friends. She goes to church and loves the people there, in fact, her closest friends attend the same church. God is very important in her life, and she enjoys doing Bible studies in the mornings before going to work as a waitress at the Southern Style Cafe. From the information above, I can fill the pages of a book describing Elizabeth’s days. Perhaps after a stressful phone call or conversation she goes for a drive out in the country and I can detail the gorgeous scenery to fill a page. She could also go for a hike where I can do the same. She may then sit and stare in the trickling waters of a beautiful creek and contemplate life in a way the reader would relate to. There is so much you can create if you truly know your character.

So what is my end advice? If you are working on a novel, rather than a short story, create an outline. Write a paragraph character analysis for every single character. Then, let your creativity flow! If you hit a brick wall, go to the source where you can get more inspiration. Maybe read some scenes of a book by your favorite author, or go on a hike, or go to a quiet area where you can think and brainstorm in a place that is different from your usual work space. Writing is relaxing, and not intended to be stressful! If your creativity is flowing at night, write at night! Don’t limit yourself to writing only at certain times, but at least outline your ideas when they come to you, and develop them when you have the opportunity. Unleash your creativity, and bring your imagination to life on paper. Create your own masterpiece!


3 responses to “Making Your Imagination Come Alive on Paper”

  1. I can totally relate to wanting to throw my laptop out the window… Your writing advice is amazing!!! I can’t wait to see more of your content Abbi!

    Liked by 1 person

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