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Approaching the blank page – part 3

August 9, 2009
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

For the past two weeks I’ve been teasing you all with ideas about how to approach the blank page, and I’ve not let you write. But, if you’ve been playing along (and assuming I’m not talking complete nonsense!) you have some inspiration, you are in a good writing space with all your materials to hand, so pens at the ready, fingers on the keys and…

… pause. Sorry everyone, we’re still not writing. You have a blank page in front of you. And you have some inspiration. But do you actually know what you are going to write?

I’m not asking what you are going to write about. That’s your inspiration. Let’s pick a common enough storyline by way of an example. Two people meet, and overcome the odds to fall in love and be together. That’s what you’re writing about. But what are you writing?

Fiction comes in a variety of forms, and you should give some consideration to what you are going to write. The above idea could be accommodated by a poem, a short story, a novel, a play, or a screenplay television or cinema. While you can easily turn a short story into a novel once you start writing, it isn’t quite so easy to turn a screenplay into novel or vice versa – writing a script is a technical process and if you want to go down that route you need to know all kinds of formatting details that are irrelevant to writing prose. Similarly, poetry has it’s own conventions and rules, and switching from one to the other is not always easy.

As well as considerations of the form of the story you want to tell, there are content considerations. So you want to tell the story of forbidden love. Does an outlaw seek the heart of the Sheriff’s daughter in the wild west? Perhaps a forbidden love between a German girl and a British soldier in World War II. Is one character an elf, another a human? Maybe they are from different species in a galactic civil war.

As well as knowing the form for your story, you’ll need to decide in advance the genre you’re working in, be it historical, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, steampunk, contemporary or any one of the myriad of different genres and sub-genres. To get an idea of how many there are, take a look at this list.

You’ve got your ideas, you’ve got your tools, and you know what form your story will take. You’re almost ready to tackle that blank page.


But that’s for another week…

Paul is sitting at his desk, listening to some classical music, watching the birds playing in the trees, and getting in touch with his inner muse. Let’s get down to the business of writing shall we?
One Comment
  1. August 9, 2009 11:41 pm

    Thanks for the link to that list, Paul.

    I have started a little challenge with myself for FF – to write in a different genre or style each week. This has given me no excuse to wonder how to write for the next week…

    I like this gentle prompting for folk in your post. … also not giving them any excise not to write/ type… something….. I look forward to next Sunday

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