Where to BEGIN Writing Your Book? THE COMPLETE GUIDE
Where to BEGIN Writing Your Book? THE COMPLETE GUIDE!
Where to Begin Writing Your Book? This is the question many newbies ask.
Welcome to the world of writing!
It’s an amazing adventure. Honestly, it’s my passion. With writing, you can BE whatever you want. You can create your whole world, in a way that you control it entirely. You can live your wildest adventures, explore the seas. Don’t you like the way a book ended? You can create your own now, end it the way you wish. You can come up with the characters that you wish existed! The most unimaginable situations. It’s a way of having a voice, passing your message across the world. It’s literally an endless world of possibilities, that can also make your rich (yes, there are a lot of rich authors. Yes, there is a lot of INDIE published rich authors!). Also, it’s perfect because you can do it all by yourself. Of course you can hire an editor later on, but, now, in the beginning, it is all on you!
Where to Begin Writing Your Book? This can be terrifying at first. To think that you will be able to write a complete story for start to end, one that makes sense and people love.
Let me tell you now: you will! You will do it.
It only takes practice. And that you love your story enough that you’re willing to spend a lot of time working on it. It will be a lot of pain, but, let me tell you:
Holding your book in your hands is a dream come true. Even if you don’t sell one copy, even if you only sell to your mom (if you listen to me, this won’t happen, but even so). You did it. You wrote a book. This is THE DREAM of millions of people.
I can tell you that the day I held my book for the first time was one of the best days of my life.
You can watch it here if you want:
I was SHOCKED. I couldn’t believe it. It is really a dream come true.
But I do think I’m rambling now. Let’s get to the beginning. It’s your first time adventuring for these seas of writing.
What will you need?
This is REALLY The Ultime Guide for Beginners
1. Where to Begin Writing Your Book? Inspiration, an idea: how to get it – Exercise
“It was all started by a mouse”, Walt Disney
It all starts with an idea. Something appears in your mind and then you can’t stop thinking about that. Sometimes, this process takes us years. I’ve heard several times of people wanting to write a book for 20+ years but never got into it. However, the idea was there. Lurking. Waiting for it to be told to the world.
If that’s your case, then, problem solved.
However, sometimes, we know a general theme that we would like to write about, but we don’t know properly what to do with it.
In other times, we just don’t know what it should be about. We have no idea.
There’s an exercise for you to help inspiration grow. I call it Observe and Mix.
Here’s what you have to do:
1. Right now, get a piece of paper and list things that you are seeing in your room. In my case, there’s a plant in front of me right now. My mom is Catholic, so I see some images behind the plant as well. You don’t have to be very descriptive.
2. You will mix these two elements in the most bizarre way that you can. I just thought here: what if this plant was sacred? Anyone that ate it would become an angel (without dying). My dog is in my room as well, so I immediately thought: a dog would eat this plant.
3. Write it down this crazy mix that you come up with.
4. Try to add the thing that you love the most in your life to the mixture.
I say this enough, but let me say it again, when you write about THE TOPIC that you can’t shut up about, that you think at least once every day, that your friends roll their eyes when you begin, you WILL BE ABLE TO FINISH THIS BOOK because you will be able to talk about this for 200+ pages. It has to be The Topic, not any topic. And it doesn’t need to be the central theme of the story, it would help if it was there, around it.
In my case, one of the things that I love most in my life is Disney.
I just thought here: my dog ate this sacred plant and flew away. I find out that the cure is in Disney World’s Adventureland. Disney is now my quest.
5. Do it enough and daydream a bit;
If one of these themes keep coming back to your mind, if you think: this is a cool idea! Then, I think you are ready.
2. Where to Begin Writing Your Book? Let it mature a bit: daydream with it, think about it
This is important because sometimes we have a good idea and get a spark of excitement. We think: this is going to be THE BEST SELLER of my life. And then, two hours later, we can’t even remember it. So, let an idea stay in your mind a bit. Toy around it. What would a story with that idea be like? Would you be able to write 300+ with it? Which characters are in this story?
Keep daydreaming about your story. Every story starts like this.
Test it: could you spend ONE year talking about this topic for 4 hours a day every day?
3. Where to Begin Writing Your Book? Testing the market
Sometimes, if you can’t decide between sci-fi and historical fiction, you really love both SO MUCH, you can’t say which you would like to write more, maybe it’s a good idea to test the market first. You don’t want to write something that it’s extremely saturated but you also don’t want to write about a market that literally zero person reads.
Do you want to self-publish or to traditionally publish?
If you want to go traditionally, you would have to research a bit to see what the industry wants. Ask away on the Facebook groups, Goodreads, maybe find an editor or agent and DM them on Twitter.
If you want to self-publish, it’s easier. You just have to analyze the categories on Amazon. You would want a category that you can possibly rank on but that it’s not too empty that nobody will see.
Here I explain properly how to do it.
4. First outline: a basic list even if you hate outlining!
I know there are people that HATE outlining. They say that it’s just not for them. If you are one of these people, please, listen to me, give it a try today. If you are an absolute beginner, start to go to the outlining path.
I say that because it’s much harder and it takes so much longer if you don’t outline.
If you don’t outline, you don’t know what comes next. You are in the hands of destiny. If it’s a good day where you are creative, then, great, the scenes appear. If it’s not, you just give up, because you have no idea where your story is heading. You can end with a poorly developed story because you didn’t know where to put the puzzles. You had no idea what your character should be doing to create tension. There are loose ends, there are things that happen that has no use to the final story. You will have to write, write if again, rewrite it, edit, do it again. And, since you don’t know what you’re doing most of the times because there’s no prior plan, you can end up with writer’s block.
I know that there are people that excel in this. Famous writers, like Stephen King. However, leave it to the professionals. Go in an easy way. PLAN your story, so you don’t keep rewriting it because you will KNOW that happens. If you don’t know, you just keep writing and you have to go back, chop things, add things and sometimes rewrite the ENTIRE manuscript.
Please, give outlining a try.
- Start bit by bit. Sometimes people don’t like to outline because they think that the story is too massive and outlining would be overwhelming. You don’t have to decide EVERYTHING before. Having an overall idea helps. So, think: what happens in chapter one and why?
For example, in my dog angel plant thing that I told you, the first scene could be a description of the house plant and how the dog was looking at it. Then, in the end, he would eat, his owner would call him and realize that he’s gone.
Create a list: Scene 1. Plant. Dog eat plant. Owner screaming for him.
Simple as that! And, then, keep going.
You can also make lists of your stories characters, what will be their importance for the story and a list of the events, elements, message that you want to convey, everything, so you don’t forget to add it.
- The most important thing for plot building is that everything has to have a reason.
One of the things that make you look the most amateur is when your story is full of loose ends, or things that happen without any meaning to advance the story.
EVERY little detail in the story has to be there to advance the story.
If you write that the character was having lunch with friends for an entire scene, you have to ask yourself: why is he having lunch now? What are they talking about? What is the importance of this scene? Why is it here now?
Listen to me, this is the difference between an experienced author and someone that doesn’t know what they are doing.
You say: I want to put this scene here because it’s fun and it will entertain the readers!
Great! This is a reason!
But does it make sense in the plot? Is it a comedy? Do you need a scene between conflict to relieve the tension? Will this make the readers get to know your characters better?
There are a lot of scenes in Harry Potter that apparently don’t advance the story. They are only having classes, playing Quidditch, talking, or drinking Butterbeer. This is not good to defeat Voldemort. However, are the scenes there randomly? NO! The scenes can follow the purpose of exploring the world, of developing the characters, creating intimacy between them, etc.
If the scene is not good for any reason, cut it.
If you love it too much and don’t want to cut it, but it doesn’t fit in the story, save it and write a spin-off out of it. A short story. Something that you can give to your readers as an extra. Save it to the next volume of the novel. There are million other things that you can use this scene for, and it will be much better than you waste it stuffing your novel.
- Conflict: the most important thing for plotting
Conflict is what drives the story forward.
You have a great world, you have amazing characters, but you don’t know what they will be doing during the story.
They have to have a conflict to advance.
This doesn’t mean to save the world or to have something really bad. It can be as simple as having a bad hair day. Anything that it’s the opposite of what your character wishes. For example, you are writing for kids. Nothing really bad happens there. However, there’s a conflict. The kid doesn’t want for the Summer to end. The kid doesn’t want to go to school. The conflict can also be internal: the character is working to develop their ability to crochet. They really want to learn how to crochet but they can’t. This is also a conflict.
What happens next come from conflict.
Exercise: make a list of things in your life that you wish were different. Things that you want but you don’t have. Traumas.
If you open up in your writing, it will improve so much.
Remember: if you have a story that is ONLY sad and bad, though, the readers are most likely going to hate it. It has to be a balance between the character suffering and getting what they want. When a reader gets a story, they go through the path with the character. They will see what the character is seeing and suffer for the character. So, please, good moments are not overrated, YOU NEED THEM.
5. Your characters: how to create them
Characters are people. Even characters that are not people, like dragons, rocks, anything, they have to behave like people so the reader understands and identify themselves with the characters. You want to create an alien with totally different behaviors and emotions than humans. Crying means laughing and vice-versa. That’s fine! But the reader still will think about humans. They will compare with humans because that’s what we are!
This means that you should make your characters as close as a real human as you can. THIS is what makes a character likable. They have doubts, they have flaws, they are confused, they laugh, love, cry. They have hobbies, they love their dogs, and they have a big sense of revenge.
Create characters thinking that they are like people that you really know. Is a woman always in makeup and flawless? No, she wears pajamas and swears too! Is a guy always sure of himself, no insecurities, with a six-pack? No! They have doubts.
Think of them as real people and you can’t go wrong.
Just don’t forget that you have to show only the essential to the story. Don’t spend pages and pages describing the hobbies of your character if he’s not going to play Lacrosse once.
Also, don’t forget that your reader is living the life of your character at the moment. If they only complain, are sad, boring, annoying all the time, the reader will hate him.
The character can have a lot of flaws but the reader has to identify themselves with these flaws, thinking like: I do this too!
6. Writing a scene: how to begin
If you’ve never written a scene before, the beginning can seem scary, but I promise you that it gets better after you start.
A tip: Start by writing what the character is seeing or doing. I think it’s easier than starting by the place and it’s more interesting.
You don’t NEED to do it but I do think it’s easier because then things just flow.
For example, my book starts with:
“Lyon punched Sky”
I wanted the readers to think: what, who is Lyon and why is he punching someone?
My new book starts with:
“NATASHA!” the teacher yelled.
I don’t know, I just prefer when it starts with the action.
Also, then again, I like to write a list of things that I want to happen in this scene. Try to use my planner that you can get here. It doesn’t need to be too detailed, I just like to point it, so I don’t forget any element and also I know WHY I’m putting those things in that scene.
7. Don’t worry too much about your first draft. It is an “exploration work”. It doesn’t need to be brilliant. If you want to write mystery and you think that you can’t come up with something good, write it anyway. You can always re-write it.
You can read millions of articles. Books about writing. Even watching the Masterclass here. It will all help, of course! But the thing that will make the whole difference is: write.
Write every day if you can.
And, also, don’t read it back. Just keep writing and writing and writing.
You can edit it all later.
I dare to say that the number 1 reason writers don’t finish their book is due to perfectionism. They read it and think: this sucks so much I want to die. And never write again.
You only get better at drawing by drawing. You only get better at driving by driving. You only get better at mountain climbing by mountain climbing. You don’t expect that a beginner will get on a surfboard and be able to go to Hawaii for the first time.
I don’t know, we have this stupid (sorry, STUPID) idea that writers are born gifted and don’t have to work hard at all. They will just write something perfectly at the first time. And when you can’t do it, you just think: oh, alright then, this is not for me (or something way, way meaner).
Just keep writing.
Also, read this article here about mental health for writers. I think that we REALLY need this and it’s not very much discussed.
8. Write, write, write: writing time and schedule exercise.
Try to start with the right food by building a writing habit. You’re a beginner, you’re interested in knowing good practice habits! This makes you WAY ahead than A LOT of people.
Let me tell you, good writing practice is to write every day.
I’ll teach you how to find the time (lists again):
1. List what you do in your daily routine. List everything if you can.
2. Try to go with an open mind. Instead of thinking right now: I don’t have time to write every day, look at this list and think: I can find gaps to fit my writing.
3. You’ll start with 5 minutes. That’s it. Find 5 minutes in your day. Your day has 1440 minutes. You can find 5.
4. In these, you will only write. The faster as you can. Don’t read back, don’t stop, don’t even correct your orthography mistakes. Word vomit.
5. Repeat the next day.
You will get used to writing. You’ll get better at it. And, then, you can come back and edit it if you want. But, now, build the habit of writing as much as you can in 5 minutes. Increase it when you feel you can.
Keep doing it until you finish the first draft.
9. Second Draft: let’s outline again, overview, puzzles
You’ve finished your first draft!
Cool! Pat yourself on the back. You’re closer than ever to finish your book! Most writers don’t get this far!
Now it’s time to look at the mess and make sense of what you wrote.
Guess what I’ll tell you: yeah, we will create a list of scenes.
Now you know more about this writing thing. You’re way more experienced than a lot of people. You can do it.
Get a piece of paper and write down on topics what happens in each scene.
And then ask yourself: Does it makes sense? Why do I have this part here? Where it advances the story? Why? Why? Why?
Remember, the next thing you’ll do after finishing the second draft is to start editing. Editing is super hard and lengthy, so you want to cut the fat now. Be ruthless. Get rid of everything that doesn’t advance the story. You can use all these scenes to write short stories later. Now, clean your first draft.
Here is when you look at the puzzles, the conflicts. Is anything left to solve? Every character that appears got what they had to get? Are there any questions without answers?
That’s why I’m telling you to use the exercise of listing the things in your story.
Here you’ll also add scenes, modify the others.
Where to Begin Writing Your Book? This question is past you now.
10. Editing and Polishing
You’ve finished the second draft! CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE A BABY BOOK!
Now, it’s time to edit it.
Many people are terrified about editing, but it’s all right. It’s boring but you can do it! It’s when you are making your book as perfect as it can be.
You’ll have to edit at some point yourself. Be it to publish it right away (this is frowned upon on the community, but if you can’t afford a professional editor…) or to send it to a professional editor, you want it to be as good as possible. Don’t forget: they charge per word. You don’t want a lot of useless words.
I’ve made a complete step by step super detailed editing guide here, so go check it out!
Since this is an article for beginners, I won’t go in detail again here because you most likely didn’t get to this part yet. If you did, go to this editing guide here.
11. Have I Finished it?
YES, YOU HAVE! YOU HAVE A BOOK! You no longer need to ask where to begin writing your book! Congratulations!
Like I tell in the editing guide, at some point you HAVE to stop editing and let your book go. Publish it. Let it live! Let the world have it! The stories are not only ours, but they are also for everyone that we touch.
You are a writer. An author. You’re not a beginner anymore. Go start your author’s blog and your marketing plan! Congratulations!
12. What to do next! Where to Begin Writing Your Book?
Now you have to decide if you did this all like a hobby (which is totally fine) or you’ll publish it. If you did as a hobby, I would tell you to go ahead and publish it on Amazon either way. You don’t need to tell anyone if you don’t want and you can buy your paperback author’s copy. There’s NOTHING better in the world than holding your book for the first time.
If you do want to get it published, you have to decide between self-publishing it or looking for an agent.
Where to Begin Writing Your Book? That’s it! You’re a writer! You have your own book now!
I’m so glad we got until here. I’m so glad that you did it. Tell me, isn’t it the best feeling in the world?
There are no rules! There are easier ways to do it, but not rules!
If this helped you in any way, please leave a comment and share it. It would help me a lot, I would appreciate it so much as well!
Then again, Congratulations!