90% of Americans say they have a book “in them” that they should write.
While millions of us have dreamed of writing a book, the same number have twiddled their thumbs at a keyboard on many a rainy night, waiting for an idea or a few words to spark a flame.
If you are seriously considering writing a book for the first time, here are some great places to start:
A Unique Idea
The premise of a book is a summary of the story you want to tell in a couple of sentences. It is the idea behind your narrative. If you can excite people about your premise, they will want to read your story.
To come up with a great idea, read as much as you can. The descriptions, insights, and stories of accomplished writers can do much to season your viewpoint. Reading can help you develop interesting characters of your own.
Write down any funny, interesting, or novel points that struck you throughout the week. Keep them on post-it-notes, Google docs, or iPhone notepads. It will surprise you how many places you have to start from when it’s writing time.
Another great place to brainstorm is a coffee house, restaurant, or other location where folks have open conversations. Write down any funny, ironic, or character-revealing dialogue that strikes you. It may be a great jumping off place for building a plot or narrative arc.
Early on in your process, share your idea or first chapter with trusted contacts who will give you honest feedback. If they find your idea intriguing, great! A truthful critic will let you know if you should move in a different direction before you put too much time and energy into your idea.
John Grisham was a busy lawyer with two children when he started writing his first best-selling novel, “A Time to Kill.” He got up at 5 am every morning and wrote 200 words a day, producing a total of 1,000 words a week.
Grisham’s first novel sold over 300 million copies. His second story, “The Firm,” allowed him to quit his job and pursue his passion for writing full-time.
Having a set time and place to write every day will allow you to reach your goal, especially if you have another job or a family. Some methods can help you structure your writing so that your novel is complete in a month or less. Check it out!
Coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries are great places to write because they are quiet places where people work rather than socialize.
Some writers, especially those who write fan fiction or fantasy, like to post their novels in chapters on sites like Tumblr or WordPress. That way they commit to a writing schedule because their readers are expecting a daily turnout. When they finish, they can sale the entire piece as a novel.
You should set long-term goals for your book as well.
A standard non-fiction book is 40,000 to 60,000 words long. Longer non-fiction books are 60,000-80,000 words long, and anything over 100,000 words is an epic-length novel. Decide on book-length before you start to write and keep the number in mind as you develop your chapters.
Outline Your Narrative
A comprehensive outline frees you up from thinking about what you are going to write and allows you to focus on quality writing.
A simple, one-page outline explaining your book’s beginning, middle, and end is an easy place to start. You can then create a table of contents. This allows you to create a plot free from holes so you can begin digging deeper.
You will need to have a conflict throughout your book that intrigues readers. Describe your characters and how the problem in the story will develop them.
The climax toward the end of your book should make the read worth your audience’s time.
Once you have chaptered your book, consider creating a file of index cards detailing what will happen in each section. Will there be a description followed by dialogue and then action? This will ease up the work you have to do when it’s time to write.
Don’t worry about editing when you write your first draft. Ideas, insights, and clever lines may tumble in, and it is important to let them flow.
When you begin editing your novel, it is important to read it as though you have never seen it before. What will your audience be thinking when they pick up your story? Would you be able to put it down?
Edit out any redundant, confusing, or unnecessary wording. Hemingway Editor is a great online tool to keep your wordy indulgences in check.
Give Yourself Grace
Many writers aren’t happy with what they wrote the first time their work became published. Over time, they have learned to simplify their language and be more succinct in their explanations.
Be proud that you have finished something that was good enough for other folks to read. Your imagination drove you to develop a plot and characters for the first time. Use the lessons you have learned to fuel your future endeavors.
Writing a Book for the First Time
Once you have honed in on a great idea, developed an outline, and organized a writing schedule you can stick with, you are ready for writing a book for the first time. Remember that anything worth doing will take time, imagination, and a little bit of love.
For more information or for help finding a publishing company, read our blog today.