For every good story, there’s an amazing beginning.
Writing a book isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, dedication and creativity. Getting started is a hurdle all on its own. Getting past the first chapter is a battle of wills. And outlining? Don’t even get me started on outlining. Even mostly done with the second novel in the series, I have yet to even feign mastery.
While high school is technically how far back my writing roots go, I’d like to focus on the more recent efforts that got me to where I could write my novels.
Growing up, I was what you might call a nerd. I spent my days watching anime, spending money on manga, and gossiping with my best friend about what happened in the latest episodes. My fascination wasn’t with how crazy or cute something was, it was how someone could translate the crazy in their head into something so fantastic. Take my favorite anime of all time, Bleach. This show’s entire focus is on an entire world with which normal humans don’t have the ability to interact. I loved to dream about the what if. What if it were real? If it was real, what else could be real?
Take a big ol’ leap in time forward to 2016. I was a full-time student, and an INFP (Myers Briggs). For my fellow Percievers out there, you know what it’s like to procrastinate. I love to procrastinate. It’s like, my favorite thing of all time and I’m exceptional at it. So, what do I do when I’m putting off studying or doing homework? I went back and read the book I wrote in high school.
That’s the best word to describe that book. I wrote it for my Senior Project. Arts and crafts and writing that book were the only things in my life that I hadn’t procrastinated about. I worked day and night on that thing, and it was awful. If I put an excerpt from it in here, you’d never bother reading my novels now. It was that bad.
Having been years between the me that wrote that book and the me reading that book, I got a crazy idea.
What if I rewrote it?
It seemed like a great idea, but I was a bit of a realist. If I took that book and rewrote it, would it be any better? Probably not. How could it be better? What did I need to do to make this book awesome?
I needed practice.
And this is where everything comes full circle.
Have you heard of fanfiction? No? Well, you’re in for a treat. Ever watched a movie and went, what if this happened instead? That’s the root of all fanfiction. They’re stories written by fans, set in the world of the thing they’re fans of. For some people, it’s Harry Potter and writing a steamy romance with Malfoy and an original character they’ve inserted into the world. For others, it’s adding an extra dwarf to the Lord of the Rings and wreaking havoc. For me, it was adding my own characters into the world of Bleach.
For me, this was great practice. It allowed me to play with a world, to figure out how the heck English grammar works again, how to develop characters and how to make something that had plot (its way harder than it seems).
This was also the encouragement I needed to tackle writing an entire book. Part of it was the reviews and getting constant feedback on my work. The other, more impactful part was completing three entire stories without ever seeing them on paper. When I finished the first, I was giddy and had learned so much it was almost overwhelming. When the second came to a close, it was more than a sense of accomplishment. And the third? I knew I was ready for my book.
If you’re interested in peeking in at these earlier (very lightly edited) works, they’re posted on Fanfiction.net.