We Teaching Authors are still catching up from being away at the Illinois Reading Council Conference last week. I'll report on the conference on Wednesday. Meanwhile, while we were gone, our Guest Teaching Author Johanna Hurwitz selected our latest giveaway winner:
Cheryl S of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Here's Cheryl's winning question, and Johanna's answer:
I have sketched out the main characters for my novel in my mind, but have yet to name them. I have determined the conclusion and have chosen the title. What do I do next? Where should I begin? Should I begin with a story outline? Should I concentrate on fleshing out my main characters? Should I mention that there are subplots?
Wow. You have a lot of questions and a lot of work ahead of you. Many writers prepare an outline before they begin writing. However, there is no rule. You already know your conclusion so you just have to think of a beginning and work towards that ending. Personally, I don't use an outline. I like to be surprised by my story just as if I was a reader. That's the way I work - I compare it to taking a trip and knowing where I want to go but leaving the map at home. That means I might get lost, I might waste time. But there will be surprises along the way and that's what makes writing fun for me.
Why don't you give your characters their names? (You can always change them.) They will seem more real to you once they are named. Then sit down and write. Nowadays with computers it is so simple to flesh out characters or make changes at any point. When I began writing (in the Dark Ages), I literally had to cut and paste my stories together and retype over and over. You are spared that but there is still a lot of work ahead of you. Start now or you'll never finish.
Good luck - you've already won a free book! (Cheryl will receive an autographed copy of I Fooled You: Ten Stories of Jokes, Tricks, and Switcheroos, edited by Johanna Hurwitz and featuring a story by me, Carmela Martino.)
Thanks again, Johanna, for sharing your wisdom with us. And thank you to all our readers who entered our contest. If you didn't win this time, never fear. You'll have another chance to win a new autographed book on Friday, when we celebrate the release of the latest TA book: Waiting out the Storm, by JoAnn Early Macken.