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How I Write

The most frequently asked question an author gets from (aspiring) writers is how they write. Same here. Every writer has his own way, his own process. On this page, I will try to give you a glimpse into my process my way of writing. It took me a few books to develop a way that works for me but I guess every writer has to find out for himself. If you still need to start working on your first work I hope this page can give you some hints and tips. Have fun reading and writing of course.    

The basics

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  • (Dis)Organized Desk

    Some writers claim a clean desk works best for them. For me, it doesn't matter. Once dug into my story there's very little that can distract me. But I guess if it helps...

  • Working Times

    Every author has his or her's best time of writing, the time when inspiration flows best. Find yours and write specifically on those times. But more importantly, keep writing frequently. You need the experience.

  • Distractions

    For me, once I'm 'in the zone' there's very little that can distract me. If you're easily distracted lock yourself up somewhere for a few hours every time you write. But be on the lookout for relationships problems.

My Tools

The tools every writer needs

My process

From Start to Finish the Way I Work

From Idea to 'First on Paper'

It all starts with a subject. What to write about. The idea for my first book came from a magazine article about the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk and I was intrigued about how little was known about what really happened. I figured I could create a story about what could have happened by filling in the gaps between what little was known. So the first thing I need to know what was known. That meant reading everything that was ever written down about the subject. The most valuable lesson learned at that time was, write about what you know and if you don’t know, learn. That way I was able to write the story from start to finish on one sheet of paper. For me, it always starts with a complete novel on one sheet of paper. For me, it helped me tremendously writing my first two novels based on a true story. It gave me a purpose what to read and research and a kind of baseline to work form. My latest novel ‘Aldaraia’ I started from scratch. To me, that gave the whole writing concept a different dimension.

Outlining my story

From the one sheet of paper, I start laying out the story, create an outline. Most of the research takes place in this phase. Laying out the story I get the idea about who the most important people in the story are. For me, the story drives the characters. My process is very structured. In my head, the complete book starts to form and I write down the complete table of contents, just the titles of the chapters with one or two sentences that tell me what could happen that chapter. All still based on the one-page story I wrote before. When the table of contents is complete I go back to the first chapter and start filling in. From this point on I learn who the main characters will be. I create a separate document in which I write down every aspect of that character, Who is he or she? How do they look, where do they come from, etc, etc? The main characters get the most specific description. In every chapter, I elaborate on everything that will happen in the chapter. I copy past links from the internet with pages of interest. This way I create an outline for my story. The complete outline will be about 30-50 pages long. For my last book, this phase took me about six months.

Filling in the blanks

From here on it’s easy. Well, not really. But having the outline helps me tremendously in creating the book. Now that I have told my story in short, there’s very little fear of writers block. For me, that’s a real big advantage. I never really get stuck when filling in the blanks. All the research has been done so I can focus on telling the story. I know what I want to write about. Chapter by chapter I fill in my outline with always my character document short at hand. I don’t really look at spelling or grammar. I fill in a chapter (which in my case is an average of ten pages) and then go back and read, correct and re-write, several times. Another thing I do is keep a separate document at hand I call: ‘things to write in’. It’s a sort of scrapbook with everything I think about along the way. After finishing a chapter I read that document checking out if there was anything I forgot or need to take with me to the next chapter. A chapter takes me about a week of writing. My last book has 45 chapters so, you do the math. As for editing. I have a very symbiotic relationship with my editor. Every chapter I finish goes to my editor. She will comment and edit that chapter and send it back to me. This helps me prevent any big changes at the end. And when a chapter is finished my wife will take another look at it and be my biggest critic. When everything is finished I have a bunch of people reading it and comment before the whole publishing pat starts.

Writing is easy. It's the sequence of words that make telling the story hard.

Burt Clinchandhill

So Keep in Mind

Words for the aspiring author

Believe and Write

So if you want to be a writer there are only two things you need to do. Believe in yourself and write. Write a lot. It doesn't matter what you write as long as you keep doing it. Soon you will start believing in yourself and words will start flowing and you'll tell a story.

Keep reading

To get better you need to keep learning. Learn from those that went before you. Read and keep reading. When you keep reading you'll keep learning. Writing techniques you can learn on a course or from a book but experience you'll get from reading and writing yourself.

Use the people around you

When you've created something show it around. It can be scary at first but the people you know are best critiques you can find. You can also try to contact other aspiring writers or maybe a published one. Don't be afraid, you will learn and get better, always.