Being with my sisters and their mostly grown children this past weekend made me feel happy and whole. It’s rare now that we sisters are together in celebration, six very different parts of the same life puzzle. Planes, shuttles, subways, escalators, and cabs transported us to common and separate destinations in Virginia and Maryland, from a wedding, to hotels, restaurants, museums, memorials, and a zoo. All of us were led through our weekend by a host of signs, maps, and apps. I, for one, would most likely still be drifting in a sea of confusion surrounded by circling politicos with fins of red or blue if I hadn’t had guidance, a basic plan, and a destination. Not only do travelers need these three things, but so do we writers.
Guidance for writers comes from many sources. The book market has a plethora of well written material on every subject from basic grammar to promotion of your published work. How To books by successful authors abound. Writer’s Digest offers a huge selection to help a writer get their project started, keep it going, and wrap it up. Go to a bookstore, go to Amazon online, Google help for writers. Oh, and, get with a critique group, take a class, go to a conference or on a retreat. Northern Colorado Writers, NCW, has got your back on all those things.
A basic plan for your fiction or nonfiction can take many forms. There’s the outline, rough or specific, for instance. Do you know the point of your article, how you will work in your research while keeping the reader engaged? Do you have at least some idea how your fiction will get your protagonist along his or her character arc? Maybe you will change your plan once you’ve written a draft or two, but it helps to make sure you get on a plane that won’t fly your words off into oblivion. If you get lost, NCW is a good place to go to find your way.
A destination is key. What do you want your reader to learn from your article by the end? Where will your protagonist land at the end his or her journey? What is the want, the need, the major problem to be overcome? Excuse the reference, but “Dora the Explorer” comes to mind here. Yeah, I know, but she and her friends always need to get somewhere specific to find, save, or set things right. Once they know where they need to end up, they can get on it.
I don’t always begin writing a story with intention, but when I do, I get guidance to sharpen my skills, have a basic plan, and know where I want to end up. Keep writing, my friends.