Tips on Writing Books
People are always wanting to know how to write a book. What is the magic formula? Do you have to be gifted from birth having been born with a pen in your hand? The truth is that there is no sure fire way to write. Not every successful writer does it the same way. Everyone's path is a little different.
But..... If you still need that little bit of encouragement, here you go!
Why Do You Want to Write a Book?
Let's start with why you want to do this. The first tip I can give you is for you to know why are you doing this. Are you doing it because everyone else is? Are you doing it because you don't want to be the only one left behind? Or are you wanting to write a book because the urge is strong?
Most people want to write a book because they have a story to tell. Their imagination has created a unique world or a mystery that would be great if only they could get it on paper. Some people have no idea why they want to write. They just feel pulled toward it. Others think that if others can do it they can, too. That last one is not the right reason.
A true writer finds themselves always wanting to write. Something inside of them is calling out. The story just has to be told. Nothing will stop it. I have gotten up at one in the morning to sit down and get a scene out of my head so I can sleep.
Why do you want to write a book?
Just Do It!
Don't wait for the right time to start that book. There is no right time. Just do it!
Life will never let you follow your dreams. You have to reach out and grab them. Nothing falls into your lap without some work to get there. Just do it!
Do you really want to get that book written? Then do this:
- Get up early to write a few sentences, paragraphs, or pages.
- Write a few lines over lunch.
- After everyone has gone to bed, write some more.
- While the kids are at soccer practice or ballet, pull out your laptop and write.
See what I'm saying here? Take every opportunity. If you are an avid reader, you read at the doctor's office, waiting in line, and when you go to the bathroom. Do the same with your writing.
Just do it!
Also, don't wait for the approval of others. Most people around you will tell you how ridiculous it is to try to be a writer. Others push you to write particular books. Ignore them all.
Just do it!
Write For You
Don't write what someone else wants. Don't write because it would make someone happy. Write for you.
You need to write what interests you otherwise you'll just be putting words on paper and not having any heart or soul in your words. How can you write a great chase scene if you don't really care about it? How can you write a touching scene between two lovers if you just don't care?
You need to write for you.
Write because you enjoy it. Write because you love the story. Don't write to please others.
Do you really want to write that book? Do you really? Then don't just do it every few months or so and type a paragraph. You need to be dedicated in your writing.
Dedication is the key to success in anything. That means you keep going at it and you find the time. If you really want to write that book, you'll stay up late tonight to work on it. You'll schedule part of your day just to write.
When you take up a new hobby, you dedicate time and energy to it. Look at it the same way. You have to dedicate yourself to your writing if you want to reach your goal of writing that book and actually completing it.
Being dedicated means:
- losing a little sleep
- missing TV shows
- writing every chance you get no matter where
- making time to be alone
- elimination distractions
- not using excuses
- find a way to make the time to write no matter what
Don't Give Up
Giving up is so easy. Trust me. I've done it so many times. It's hard to stick it out. But the rewards are so huge!
Don't give up as you write. There will be days when you just can't find the right words. That's okay. It happens to all writers. Pull back and do something else for a change. Your brain needs a mini rest so it can think straight and give you the words you need. When that happens for me, I get my MP3 player and go for a walk. Clears my mind right up and I get back to writing quickly.
Don't give up because someone didn't like your story idea. Shoot! Not everyone likes Stephen King or Tom Clancy. Some genres don't sit well with people. I don't like zombie books. If you write one, don't quit because I don't like it. It's not my thing.
Don't give up!
Keep an Idea Book
This was the best tip anyone ever gave me. An idea book is a notebook that you can jot down ideas for stories. I've used it first thing in the morning to write down a dream before it escaped me. After watching a movie, I've written down ideas. So far, I've got 25 pages filled with ideas of possible novels.
You don't need anything fancy. A plain old notebook will work just fine. Keep it where you always know where it will be. Take it with you. I had a great idea for a story while at a soccer game. Grabbed my notebook and wrote it down between plays.
Write down the gist of the story. Don't write the whole thing. If places, names, or events have already come to you, put them down, too. I've even noted if it could be a series.
Writing a Book
Have an Idea
What will the story be about?
Know where to start
How would it start if it was a movie?
Sit down with no distractions and just let the words flow
Don't write and try to correct it as you go. Just write it.
You're not going to please everyone. Seriously, in every aspect of your life you'll get criticized. You'll get more when you write. Don't let it stop you. The criticism will come but you have to let it slide unless it is constructive.
- Avoiding Early Criticism - I made the mistake with my first ever attempt at writing to have a friend read it that is not one who has a positive outlook on life. The chapters I had written were extremely, extremely rough. The only thing she said was, "The characters need more development and there are a lot of errors in it." What did I take from that? "Your writing sucks." Whether she meant it that way or not, that is how it came across to me. When you are just starting off with your work and you really want some opinions, go to those that can be honest but can be kind. They will be the ones that can see beyond the roughness and easily ignore it. They will be able to see the potential of the manuscript and comment on that above all. Any criticism they give will be constructive. Avoid those that just want to criticize. They are toxic in many ways. So, what is constructive criticism?
- Constructive Criticism - Not all criticism is the same. There is the criticism that is just destructive and does not promote a good result. For example, "I think you need someone to teach you how to write dialogue." That is destructive criticism. It could have been worded, "I like where you are going with this scene, but the dialogue seems a little stiff to me." That is constructive. There is a problem with your dialogue. It needs to be addressed, but which one would you react in a positive manner toward? The second one. The first one just puts you on the defensive and undermines your self-confidence. The second one starts with a positive comment while nicely pointing out how they are seeing the dialogue. They are not saying 'you' which makes it more accusatory in the first statement. Use constructive criticism and don't ignore it.
Revise and Revise and Revise
Your first attempt at writing will not be close to the final piece. There will be mistakes. You'll find areas that need expanding or developing. That means you will be revising and revising your work.
Write your first draft. Let it sit for a few days or weeks. Go back and revise it. Repeat. Don't get too attached to your own words. You might need to cut out whole scenes. You might have to toss whole chapters. Revising is critical in getting a manuscript worthy of publication.
Everyone has their own unique way of revising. I have a friend who revises after each chapter. I have another that revises after letting the words sit for a year. Some authors work with plot first then branch off into characters and dialogue. It will be trial and error at first until you find the process that works best for you.
- Fiction Writing Help and Information
You will find many kinds of articles that pertain to writing. Writers need more than information about how to write a book and get it published.
- National Novel Writing Month
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.
- About a little thing called 750 Words
It's about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest
Don't assume you know what you are writing about. You'll have to do some research to make your book better. It could be as simple as researching one teeny tiny scene. I wrote where a character was in a bad car accident. Someone who worked with EMTs was mortified at what I had the emergency crews doing. It was all wrong. I called up a relative that was an EMT and asked her for information. She helped me smooth out the scenes.
If you have a character that is a waitress, do some research. Ask someone who does the job for a living to read what you wrote and see what they have to say. You'd be amazed at how much research needs to go into a simple short story.
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