I love that he asked me that! I thought I would post my response to him here, so others could see it too. Also, I’m hopeful that some of my author friends would be kind enough to add their ideas here as well. There are so many different approaches, I’d be interested to see some more perspectives than just my own (and hopefully your thoughts will somehow augment my paltry observations).
Here is the response I sent him. Please help me improve it!
I'm happy to give you advice, but I feel the need for this caveat: everyone's different. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.
Now, that being said, let's get down to business... :)
If you seriously want to get a book written, I suggest blocking some time off for yourself every day for your writing. It sounds pretty basic, but you'd be surprised by how many people don't do this. Then, by late evening, they still haven't written a thing, and lament the loss of time in the day. Block off your time and treat it like an unbreakable appointment.
Now, about getting started... Man, I wish I had an easy answer for you. Really, this totally depends on your personal style.
· Some people roughly sketch out a plot and decide on a few important characters before they write. Then, they figure it out as they go.
· Others, like myself, plan and map out the entire story, including important events, character traits, complications and even some dialogue. I try to have ideas and elements link and weave throughout the story, and I'm worried that details won't align if I don't plan for it first. Mind you, I'm a little obsessive about it, so I wouldn't actually suggest that you do as I do - I planned and scribbled for three months straight before typing a single word. And some authors may plan for years before they write (especially if their book requires a lot of research).
· Most authors, I believe, find a balance between the two extremes. Get a feel for your story and characters and know generally what you want to have happen. Then, simply start writing and see where the story takes you. Many writers, despite laying the most detailed plans, find that mid-story, their writing takes them in a completely different direction. And it's funny but that often makes for the best story. Just go with it!
Anyway, I hope these ideas help you to get started. Just see which approach appeals to you the most and jump in.
I wish you the very best of luck. It is always so exciting to watch your ideas take shape. Enjoy the process, my friend.