Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to Write a Book

Wandering the webs this morning, I noticed someone had asked someone else how to go about writing a book.  This person was an agent, not a writer, so they opened the question to other people's answers.  I decided to answer it here.

You know, it occurs to me when I started out I never even thought to ask this question, but I guess there are people out there who just don't know. 

The easy answer I'll take from the Mad Hatter: "Start at the beginning and when you get to the end, stop."

It really is that simple.  And it's also that complicated.

So, here's the real answer as I see it...

First off, you should have a good grasp of how books are laid out.  How they ebb and flow.  The general structure of books and plots and characters.  As I see it, that means reading books other people wrote - a lot of them.  If you haven't already done this, you're behind the curve.  It's not impossible to write a book if you're not a reader, but it's sure not any easier, so you better get cracking.  And I ain't just talking 'how-to' books on writing or books in the area you think your book will fit into.  Read everything - because even if you're a straight romance writer, you can learn stuff from SF or fantasy or mystery.  And vice versa.

Now, I assume that since you asked the question, you already have an idea in mind.  If not, you really are jumping way ahead even wondering how you write a whole book.  Even if your idea is just a kernel of an idea, you have to have one to take the first step on the road to THE END. 

So, bypassing the tragically idea-less, we'll jump back to the Mad Hatter and tweak his advice a little.  Take your knowledge of how books are generally laid out along with your shiny idea, set your butt down in a chair somewhere and start writing.  Do a few pages and see if you like where your idea is headed.  If yes, keep writing.  If no, try starting it over.  Or forge ahead with what you've got and hope it will work itself out along the way.  (I wouldn't do the starting over thing more than once or twice, or you'll never reach THE END - which is the ultimate goal.)  Any way you approach this part, keep writing until you reach the end and then stop. 

Lastly, pat yourself on the back because you did it.  You wrote a whole book all the way from Chapter One to THE END.  

Sure, there's a whole bunch of shit afterwards like editing and revising and rewriting, but the question was 'how to write a book' not 'how to write a book that could someday be good enough to be published'.  Hell, I'm obviously still figuring the latter out or I wouldn't be among the 'un'.

And yeah, it sounds easy, but it isn't.  If you want the easy road, try trash removal services.  (Nothing against trash removal personnel, but it's not exactly a brain-straining occupation.  Unless you're a trash removal person who's writing a book in their head while they do their mind-numbing job.)  There's no guaranteed paycheck here.  There's a shit-ton of work ahead without a foreseeable monetary return.

But there's also a huge personal return in the completion of a book - whether you ever get published or not.  And that's why you write one all the way to THE END.


  1. You aren't "un"'re "pre". Because you will be one day. Somewhere, somehow. You are too talented not to be!

    This is dead on. The Mad Hatter is right and so are you. I need to remember this sometimes--the utter simplicity of it when boiled down to the basics. Thanks for reminding me.

    1. :blush: Thanks, Silver.

      Like I said, sometimes it is that simple and all the rest of the stuff just gets in the way. I have a bad habit of getting in my own way, so I needed this reminder, too. Glad it helped you. =o)

  2. Also, try out NaNoWriMo. If your end thought is, "That was fun," or, "That was worthwhile," you know you actually like writing. If your end thought is, "Thank God that's over," perhaps it's not for you. :)


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