Learning how to write a book
People think that learning to write a book takes a lot of practice and treat it like a new talent to acquire. But it’s not true. Famous writers who became successful never had a master’s degree in writing. Most fiction writers never had any experience in publishing or writing a book. You need only some motivation and strong inspiration to write a great book.
If you need to start a book, inspiration shows you the way. The story you created in your mind or the character you play yourself in your thoughts. They never leave you alone until you finish your words. Or maybe it can be your love for writing that makes you jump to another level. But your determination in terms of your persistence, your willpower, and your resistance to quitting will alone push you to the end. For beginners, here are some writing tips for help. Read them to start with.
If you have a handy checklist on how to write a book, it can be of great help in finishing what you had started. So, let’s go ahead and learn how!!
Start with an idea to write a book
Believe me, you don’t need to have your entire story in your head before you start writing your book or a short story. Every great story or novel started as an idea. Writing is exploring. It can be a funny scene or a romantic memory or even a piece of witty dialogue that sparks an idea. All you need is that seed to harvest a good story or a book.
You may sometimes sit and think a lot about the story. Make sure you never overdo it. Never think too much about everything in the story. Everything falls in place eventually. Just ignite the spark and turn it into a wildfire.
Brainstorm your own or discuss with potential thinkers who can provide an idea that can make you jump off your seat. Or take a course to help yourself come up with ideas.
Invest yourself in the story’s main character
Once you have worked on the idea for your story, the next task is to grow your main character and decide the hero of your story whom the readers have to follow. By whom and how to introduce the readers to your story. From the story narration standpoint. Brainstorm with the following questions after you finalize all the above steps :
- What exactly do my characters need?
- What is the reason for the character to indulge in your story?
- Strengths and weaknesses of every character
- How do you upgrade the characters?
- Every character’s past and future to maintain a consistency of reason.
First, prepare your answers to these questions then every character in your story will take shape perfectly. It makes you clear about the book and its story. All books are about that one character around whom the story will be revolving. This is names as the character arc. To build a great character arc, the writer should understand the characters at the beginning and the end. This can demonstrate in the story, of how and what happens to these characters.
Creating a plot outline
To write a book it is very important to have a plot outline. Few experienced writers start with a few details and create the story while writing. Few others never start one without mapping out the entire outline. Some others, plan out everything chapter-wise.
I suggest starting to write a book with the basic outline will help in creating your first draft. You may or may not follow it based on the following chapters and their plots.
Structuring your story
For mapping an outline, you can follow the three-act principles in structuring the story. Most successful novels or stories have a basic structure that includes three acts. These steps will help you write a book with a plan.
- Story setup: You introduce the story to the world with its characters, their goals, and their problems. While introducing, the writer quickly sets the main character into action and sends the story in a different direction. This is usually called a Catalyst.
- Story flow: If some character in the story does a thing differently or goes to a place that is out of the outline, this results in some conflict or a problem. This leads our main character to lose all hope. This situation is known as All is Lost.
- Solution: To achieve the goals, characters find a solution to the problems they are facing. It shows the struggle of the character and emotions indulged in this stage.
Prewriting the ideas can help you build your story and focus on the flow.
Preparing the first draft
Write it down. It may not be the best form. But ultimately, it will be a stepping stone.
The main character is built and the outline is ready. Now, the main story can be started. It is the right time to visit a library or a coffee shop to collect ideas and finish up page by page.
Always remember, the first draft is always in the discovery. It is never supposed to be the best version. It needs to be worked on. This is the point where, we can discover things about the characters, the plot of the story, and the world itself.
Be careful with the first draft being imperfect and messy. And as your writing goes on, you can learn a lot about each character pointing out different ways you might not think of. During this experiment, the outline might be disregarded sometimes and a new style might be developed. You should not panic but stay calm and continue your flow. Don’t try for perfection and spoil your plot. The collection of your rough thoughts, plotlines, and ideas gradually make up the book you desired to write. The perfect book comes after several revisions and editing, of course. But now, you need to focus only on writing and developing the story.
You don’t need to be a full-time writer to write a book. All you need to do is just put some time aside to write, every day. You need to maintain consistency then writing a book becomes a habit and it is easier to write every day.
Take some break time and re-write a book
After the first draft, take some time to relax and take a break from the writing. The job which is finished isn’t an easy one, so you need to congratulate yourself and celebrate for a moment.
While you take a break you can refill the creative tank in your brain. It is also important to give your mind some break from the story. Maybe after a few weeks, you can have a new idea of the story. Then you can revise and give more clarity to the plot line. It gives a grandeur look to the storyline.
Go through the draft from a reader’s perspective
After staying away from the story for some time, now it’s time to get back to your first draft. Do not edit anything in the draft and take a lot of notes on what you want to change in the storyline. You might be shocked to see how much development you can make in the draft.
You can understand a lot when you try to revise the story with a view to the end of it. Reading the blunt storyline without knowing how it ends, leads to a daunting feeling that merely wastes your time. You might not waste two hours trying to perfect a chapter that will be removed in the end.
You write a story to tell it to yourself. But when you rewrite it, you need to make sure you remove everything that’s not the actual story.
As you have a clear picture of what you need to do and what should be the story, you can roll up your sleeves and get the work done. You can focus on bigger changes in your first revision. Word choices and sentences can be fixed later in the second or third revision. This will make the process easy and tension free.
Tip: Checking for active and passive voices in the story also has some impact on the reader’s perspective.
Ask yourself these questions while working on your second draft:
- Can the readers believe the plot of your story?
- Can you find any parts of your story to be too slow or too fast?
- Does the decision made by the characters feel realistic or a drama?
- Do the character’s actions and behavior proactive till the end of your story?
- Does the character’s conflict grow rationally and is it reasonable?
- Does the main character change in the end or is it the same from the beginning?
If you got answers to these simple questions, the storyline will eventually improve while making the second draft.
If you couldn’t make it easy, then you can repeat the process several times until you feel your readers get involved in reading the story. Some writers do several drafts before finishing the story.
Polish the story
Finally, you should make the story shinier by polishing as many times as you can. If everything feels good, then focus on smaller things.
Following these steps can make the process easier:
Lower the usage of adverbs: Sometimes a single word steals the context of a sentence. They are Adverbs. Now the single word holds the entire meaning of the sentence. That one word kills the entire emotion held by the sentence.
Check the necessity of every sentence: In this part check if the story doesn’t need any of the sentences. If it is lengthy or drags the storyline, remove it. The best test is to read the entire paragraph removing the trail sentence. This makes us understand the importance of that particular sentence.
Make your work heard: For writers, this is somewhat uncomfortable to read their work aloud. But remember, it is crucial. You can have others read it to you. You can understand some natural dialogue errors, slow pacing, and lengthy description. If we hear what we wrote, it makes much more difference in what we want to correct.
Take help: An editor or a professional writer can get you some help in correcting your manuscript. It’s not always easy for writers to get the right kind of help they need.
Finally, party hard!!
Now congratulate yourself on your first success. It is what most people just dream of doing a lot of times. Give a big thanks t yourself for not quitting in the middle. Now all you have to find is a publisher to publish your book.
I published my first poetry book Waves of Heart: An anthology of short poems. Have a read and please share your opinion.