Most, if not all, authors dream of writing a bestseller. Unfortunately, few writers live this dream. Most authors struggle to get their books published, and make only a few cents for every hour spent working on them.
Does it have to be this way? No.
A successful bestselling story is a satisfying, a complete piece with a beginning, middle and ending. It is absurd to suggest there is any single or one best way to write a book. The path from idea to finished manuscript is different to each author, and even for a single author the path may vary from book to book. This blog can only give one point of view, that may be useful to the new writers tapping their way towards their goal of becoming … a published author.
We suggest the best way to write a book – is to work individually with an editor, a writing mentor, someone who will hold you accountable, guide you, and save you hours and hours of procrastination, someone who knows that one essential ingredient your book requires – also the journey the author endures throughout the writing.
So… you’ve decided you want to write something that is intrinsically meaningful to you.
How do you get started?
Here are seven simple steps to follow:
- Identify your obsessions: What interests you overpoweringly? What are the constant whispers saying? Why do you want to tell this story? Whatever it is, that’s your subject matter. It’s easier to write about what captivates you, what lights you up and then your heartfelt fire will excite your reader, too.
- Characters: There is no story without them. You’ll probably have a central character whose perspective shapes the narrative. Who is the protagonist? Write what you know about this character. Don’t be shy — be creative. Your characters and events will attempt to understand, explore, explain or otherwise throw light on this theme/idea of your book. The more you know, the more your story will flow.
- Focus: A story needs an end point, message, a theme, a climax. Or, more formally, a point at which your characters’ lives are changed forever. Get some idea of what this might be — however blurred — before you start to write. All writers write in different ways. Some writers never plot their books before they start writing. Others spend months writing detailed plot outlines before they ever sit down and type. How you approach this decision is up to you and your own particular writing style, but there are at least two advantages to outlining your plot beforehand: 1. A plan provides a roadmap that can be referred to throughout the writing process and in this way it helps reduce those times when you just can’t figure out what to write next. 2. Writing the outline will bring to light facets of your story you may have not considered before.
- First draft: Once you’ve identified your subject, characters and audience: it’s time to start. Let everything you have flow on to the page as effortlessly as you can. Don’t worry too much at this stage with perfecting sentences or ruminating over the exactly the right words. Focus on getting the whole story drafted within a reasonable timeframe. When you get there, celebrate. You now have the bones of your story. Capturing your muse is the good part. The flip side is the part lies ahead — but not just yet.
- Rewrite: In writing your first draft, you may find there are holes in your narrative, things you don’t know. Now is the time to review your book. When your first draft is complete, you will need to go through it and make it better. But many people fall down at this step, taking months or even years to do it, and sometimes never getting it done. The purpose is to enrich your writing and produce a polished draft. Good stories are not written: they are rewritten. Writers in the early stages of their career can become overly fixated on getting their book absolutely perfect in the first draft. Of course you want your book to be as good as you can make it. But, taken too far, this desire for perfection can become debilitating. Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for completing your first draft. New authors know — if you haven’t rewritten your book at least twice, you haven’t written your book. The rewrite is the fun part because you get to polish and make things shine.
- Editing: When you think you’ve finished, hand your story over to a professional editor. You’re now too close to your own work to make the final touches, so go off and literally forget your book. Come back with a cleansed palate, which will enable you to make yet another set of revisions, if need be. This will produce the finely tuned story that has a chance of being published.
- Finally – when you’ve finished your first draft, celebrate. Not everyone makes it this far. Once you’ve written a book, no one can take that away. You wrote it, and that’s amazing, it’s time to publish.
Most importantly, enjoy the writing process! If you don’t, your reader won’t enjoy your story.
And, then go write another one!