Almost everyone, at some point, has finished a good book and wondered something like… “Gee, maybe I could write a book.” If you have ever thought about writing a book, maybe you should give it a try. After all, every successful writer started out as an unpublished author right?
Undoubtedly, writing a book isn’t easy… and it takes time and determination as well as, of course, plenty of talent. But, you will never know if there is indeed a book inside you somewhere if you don’t give writing a try.
Many people in their seasoned years have lived very interesting lives and have experience to draw upon that could become the foundation for fiction or nonfiction. "Interesting” does not have to mean “grandiose” or “epic” or even “unusual.” Think about some of the novels that have become best sellers over the decades. A lot of them are woven around typical, everyday people. Some may be thrust into unusual circumstances, but otherwise they are living fairly normal lives. It is the way the story is told that grabs our interest.
If you have a story to tell, the following tips may help you get started. Remember though, to set a reasonable goal. First and foremost, strive to finish the book. That in itself is an accomplishment and victory. Once you have actually written your book, who knows where it will go from there…
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Begin your journey at the end of your story. It may sound a bit odd, but some writers find it helps to know how their story is going to end before they write their first sentence. If you know how your story ends, you can then concentrate on figuring out the best direction to take your story in order to get to your desired conclusion. However, don’t set your ending in stone. Be prepared to be flexible, in case your story takes you in a different direction than expected. You may end up just as surprised as your readers by your ending!
Develop some interesting characters. If you let your imagination run free to build characters that seem real to you, they will seem more real to readers as well. Create a complete background story for each character. Know and understand them fully, including their desires, struggles, and motivations.
Start with a solid outline. Build a workable roadmap for your book. Map out the basics of what will happen and how it will happen. Add specific events that are necessary to move the story along, including a few sentences of explanation.
Review and rework. Read your first draft with the goal of making it better without judgement. Go in knowing that changes and improvements will be needed. Don’t be critical of your writing. Improve upon it. Make sure it is interesting and that the story flows. Make sure your characters are engaging and believable. Make sure what you are saying is clear. Make sure the writing is crisp and does not ramble on too long for no reason or without benefiting the reader.
Consider publishing options. For some people, simply writing a book is enough. They are happy to just share it with family and friends. Other people want to see their books in print or as an eBook. There are many different paths to take when it comes to book publishing. You can self-publish your book or take the traditional book publishing route by submitting a book proposal to a literary agent or book publisher. If you decide to approach an agent or publisher, look for those associated with books similar to your own. Each company has their own proposal submission guidelines. Read and follow the guidelines.
Write a first draft. Use your outline and characters to get something on paper. A first draft does not have to be a perfect realization of your story. You will edit your story later. Try to enjoy the process of expressing yourself when writing your first draft, without thinking about grammar or spelling or any of the mechanics of writing that can trip us up. Just write. If it is difficult for you to write or type, consider recording your words and then have someone else transcribe them for you.
Step back a little and give yourself some distance. After you’ve finished writing your first draft, walk away from it for a little while. Don’t even think about your story. Become involved in other things. Then, when you come back to it, look at what you have written with fresh eyes and a new, open perspective.
Celebrate your achievement. You wrote a book! How many people can say that? Pat yourself on the back and do something to commemorate your accomplishment.
Establish a plan on how to get your book written. Set up a schedule to follow. When will you write? How much time will you spend writing? Stick to your plan just as you would any other work schedule.
Edit. Editing you book may be the most tedious part of your book-writing journey. Editing is about spelling and grammar and all those things we learned in high school English class. But, remember, there is something to be said for writing in a “conversational” tone. Conversations are not always grammatically correct. A sentence that is text-book correct may sometimes come across as dry and mechanical to the reader.
Determine the type of book you want to write. Fiction? Nonfiction? Think about the kinds of books you enjoy reading. If you enjoy reading a certain genre, you may also enjoy writing in that genre.