So you’ve finally decided to write your first book, huh? Well, Congratulations! That’s the first step. It’s not easy to take this decision. There must be a reason to write a book, so what’s yours?
Are you writing a biography? Do you have a message you want to send out to people? A great idea that an article won’t give justice to? There are many reasons to why you should write a book but the question is now how?
Writing a book isn’t easy and the thought alone is intimidating. You’re thinking whether or not your idea is good enough if it will ever be read or published, and what if you invest time into it but then never finish it?
Here are 10 steps to use as a guide to get you through this and help you finish your first book. Ready to be the proud owner of a book?
Have an idea
Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you have to have an idea for your book. You may even have a few ideas that you’re considering. Start researching each idea separately to check originality and likability.
Think of an idea you would like to read, hence be easy to write about. If you’re writing a topic just because it’s a best seller idea, it’ll fail. You have to know everything about your idea and have a strong passion for it because if you don’t, it won’t go very far.
Create your characters
Coming up with characters for my idea is one of the most amusing parts in my opinion when writing a book. There is no limit to the number of characters you can have but try to limit them to 20 or less because you want your readers to easily remember your characters.
Your characters have to be believable for your readers to react to them, so remember, they must always be flawed because they’re humans and that’s okay. Know, love, and befriend your characters. Create backstories for them with a list of traits, flaws and the role of each character. Define who are the main and side characters, and their roles.
Map your outline
Now that you have your idea, it’s time to start organizing your thoughts. Each book has a beginning, middle and ending. Break down your story into chapters and what will happen by creating plot points, characters roles in each scene, challenges they’ll face and how they’d overcome it.
The outline should have all your book’s events, keeping your thoughts organized, and giving you a clear guide to follow. It shouldn’t be too long, one or two pages so you can hang it in front of you while writing.
Set a writing schedule and deadlines
Writing a book requires time and dedication. You have to be willing to make the time in your busy day to do nothing but sit down and write.
You can’t wait for inspiration to hit, that will never get anything done. Set at least 7 hours a week to write, that’s an hour a day or you can split sessions into two, 3 hours and 4 hours. Once you have your hours set, you need to set a goal per session, a number of words to write. Start with a small number, say 300 words then slowly increase them as you get more into the zone.
Now you need to come up with a deadline to get your book writing done. Think rationally and choose a realistic date, taking into consideration days of procrastination of course.
It’s time for research
You need to be sure of everything you’re writing. All details, logic, historical facts must be validated and believable.
This is also the time to look up locations for your book, character details, whatever you need basically. Don’t overdo the research though and get stuck in that, just gather enough details to satisfy your readers. Doing the right amount of research adds to your credibility as a writer.
Give your characters some passion. Make them want something and find a way to get it. — Susan K Perry Ph.D.
Eliminate all distractions
When it’s time to write, that’s all you should be doing. I know sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and you want to check your Facebook or get a snack but this will only consume time and make you lose focus.
Designate a specific room or spot to set yourself to write and eliminate any distractions by closing the door or shutting your phone, anything that can take up any of your writing time. Prepare everything ahead of time so you don’t need to get up until your hours are up. Set your writing tools, get your coffee, and snacks and get to work.
Write your first draft
Once you start writing, don’t stop. You may not love everything you write but don’t fix it just yet, any clichés or long structured sentences can wait. It’s okay to drift a little from your outline and improvise as you write by adding events or changing things. Your characters will develop throughout the story and may surprise you.
You can edit by chapter or wait till you finish the whole book’s first draft then start editing. The opening scene is vital in a book because that defines if the reader will continue reading or not. The start has to be compelling and catch the reader’s attention.
But everyone believes the beginning and ending are the most important and hardest parts of a book. However, I think the middle is the tricky part and here’s why.
When we give voice to our feelings not only do we honor them, but through writing we are able to make sense of what we feel. This is especially clear when we use techniques such as free writing or stream-of-consciousness writing, which is writing without lifting the pen off the page and allowing thoughts to go where they want to go. — Diana Raab, Ph.D.
Don’t get stuck in the middle
The middle part can be frustrating for all new writers. You’ve already caught your readers now you have to keep them interested. This is where the conflict is at its highest and tension is established between characters, the actions take place.
Some writers stretch out this part and drag it too far so it turns boring, others feel like they don’t have enough events happening in between and stuff it with useless events which are very wrong. This part needs to be well thought of and organized so you don’t lose interest yourself and then lose your readers.
A satisfying ending
Now that all the action is played out, it’s time to bring your story to an end. Your readers have stuck with you this long so they deserve a satisfying ending. Take your time with the ending, don’t rush it and leave no loose ends.
This is the part where your protagonist finally overcame all the obstacles and reaches her goal. This doesn’t mean it has to be a happy ending; you can give your readers a surprise just as long as it’s logical and acceptable.
10-Edits and re-edits
It’s finally time to read what you wrote and change it all! (Just kidding, well, sort of). You need to read your book from the reader’s perspective, if a sentence doesn’t flow easily, it needs fixing. Don’t try to use big fancy words to complicate it and keep the structure of your sentences short and clean. If a sentence isn’t adding value to the scene, cut it.
Put your writing through online grammar, speller, and readability checks then go after it again yourself. Don’t trust machines with your work, do your own checks just in case! Two main points to remember in editing is using active voice is always better than passive voice, and using strong verbs instead of adverbs. Your writing should flow smoothly and easily, keeping your readers wanting to finish it.
Follow these steps and you’re guaranteed to start and finish writing that book. Now that you wrote, read and edited your book, it’s time for others to read it too. You can look for a publisher or upload it on online writing platforms to hear back readers feedback. Once your first book is out into the world, the rest will follow!