Last Prospector Author, Cairn Rodriguez, Demystifies Fiction Writing

Another wonderful author who consented to help point us in the right direction.

The Blank Page

In writing, is there anything worse than the dreaded blank page? Writer’s block is bad, for sure, but blocked implies something was flowing before. The blank page, and in the modern age the blinking cursor, is the first step towards filling up the big empty. It’s full of promise, wants to be immediately interesting and sets the course for all the pages to come.

Because that first blank page is so important, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise how much time writers spend staring at it. Often, it’s not a lack of ideas on how to start, it’s too many ideas all vying for the limelight. A new story of any length has the potential to be anything, to go anywhere and to do everything. Creative types can easily become overwhelmed by the possibilities, it’s hard to know where to start when there are pretty much no limits.

So you sit down, boot up and commence writing with conviction. That white screen emerges, that pesky little cursor blinks. And blinks. And blinks. All that conviction disintegrates beneath the weight of one looming question: Where do I begin?

(Did anyone else also start hearing the theme to Love Story?)

Every writer is different, we all work and think in unique ways. This can make giving advice on how to write problematic. All I know is what works for me and I’d like to share the two most valuable tools that enable me to sit down and start typing.

The first one is hard, and something many aspiring authors who have asked for my advice discard immediately. It’s fair to point out that, thus far, none of those who’ve asked and discarded have yet to complete any kind of work. However, this is the single most essential thing I do before I start writing.

Ready? Here it comes. Start at the end. Don’t fight me on this.

Know where your story is going before it starts. Sit down and figure it out first, in your head. Or talk it out with the family dog, it also works well because dogs are very perceptive. Pester your friends and relations, hash it out on Twitter, I don’t care HOW you do it. Just do it, because once you know where you’re going, how you’ll get there, 90% of the hard work will be done.

Think about the over-arching theme of the story. Decide on the ideas you want passed on in the text. Know why your characters exist and what is in store for them. Knowing all these details in advance will inform everything written from the start. It doesn’t matter if the story has a big, splashy finale or not. Because you know how it ends, you also know everything that needs to happen to get there.

Once you’ve done the hard work, and I’m not pretending the above is easy, there is only one more step to a solid beginning for the story. The easiest way I know to avoid the accusing stare of the blank page and the petulant blink of the cursor is to know the first line I wish to write before opening up the screen.

Once again, work it out first. Find that perfect first sentence before the blank page demands it. When you have it, sit right down and bang that puppy out, try to look smugly at the monitor while doing so. After that, just don’t stop. Let the words flow because you have what you need to build the framework for the story.

You have a beginning, you have an ending, you are a rock star. Yes, there will be many details to work out along the way. There will be fits and starts, pauses and furors, and at times you may get stymied. But knowing the end is your true north, it’s the fixed point you are traveling towards and will keep you from getting lost.

Thinking about writing a story is certainly far less romantic than actually sitting down to type one out. I want writing to be a fun, pleasurable experience, not stressful and full of angst. Doing the dirty work first keeps the romance in the actual writing, hopefully a love affair than won’t ever end.


Cairn Rodrigues is a lapsed chef and a current writer of refreshingly delightful fantasy fiction. She has a passably good relationship with punctuation while maintaining the high standards and integrity of self-published authors the world over. With over 30k tweets to her credit, she can sum up even the most profound and convoluted thought into a mere 140 characters as if by magic. Cairn knows all the words to La Bamba and is very well educated in classic American porn. She enjoys glitzy fireworks displays, the iridescent feathers on common street pigeons and a really great Monte Cristo sandwich.

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