Here’s how I write my books and so if you get stuck writing yours, follow my lead….
The Idea for a book
I always start with the idea and from that springs the Book Title. The mind is a wonderful thing as when I have a book title, the writing underneath starts to take shape. ‘How To Write A Book’ is a good example of a title for a Subject Matter Book. Keep it simple and obvious, with matching ‘key words’ to the search terms that your ideal reader might put into google. If it’s a work of fiction, keep it simple but with impact.
Once I’ve got the Title, I then brainstorm and mind-map the ‘Contents’. I usually work with 12 Chapters as it’s a nice even number. There’s no set number but having the Chapter set, with Chapter titles, helps me to organise my thoughts on ‘content’ into broad headings. Then if I want to write 3000 – 5000 words in every chapter, that will get me to between 36 and 60,000 words. (36,000 words is enough for a decent sized book). Having 3000 words is a far easier target than 60,000. It’s breaking the goal of writing a book into easy, achievable chunks.
Story Arcs and The Hero’s Journey
I follow a pattern when writing a story. Think of the backbone of a Whale. It curves up and down and forms the ‘spine’ of your book. The bones coming off the backbone form the storyline and the structure of your book. It gives a framework to your writing and helps the story, subject matter and content flow from the beginning to the ‘tale end’ of the book. Think of the plot of a Western Movie. There’s usually the Cowboys, Indians, the Goody, the Baddy, the Town Sheriff, The Jailer, The Love interest, sometimes the Comedian. Along with the supporting characters, they all go on an adventure which takes them into life or death situations. They share their hopes, wishes, dreams, values, character flaws and strengths and ultimately a challenge from which they survive, die or evolve, until the next time……
Think Indian Jones, The Matrix, Star Wars, Scooby Doo, etc.
How To Write a Great Story
Have a start, middle and an ending. Sounds obvious but it works. A strong structure for your book is so important as this will provide the framework under which your writing will flow.
Create intrigue, tension, spark curiosity, reveal clues, entice the reader, create interesting characters that the reader can identify with.
Get plenty of practice. Writing improves with more writing. Get feedback from those who you know, like and trust. Ask them some simple, easy to answer questions – What did they like, what didn’t they like?
Join a writers group, attend a creative writing course and write every day.
From my understanding of how the mind works, it likes to be kept occupied. Instead of filling it without thinking, consider asking your sub-conscious to help you with plots, characters and content for your book. You’ll be amazed what your mind can come up with. Usually the best ideas pop up when we are resting or asleep. Ask yourself questions like ‘What would this character look like, be like, sound like, look like? And keep a notepad and pen by your bed or if you wake up with a great idea, write it in your ‘notes’ app on your phone.
Although I’m not very good at drawing anything other than ‘stick men and women’, I always have a visual image, even if it’s in my own mind, of what each of the characters look like. Pinterest is helpful as you can use it to create a ‘Vision Board’ of your ideas for your story. Avoiding stereotypes can sometimes be a challenge. Always give each character something unique. You write from your own ‘view’ of the world and of the experiences and people you have met along the way. Research is important and it can be a lot of fun. You’ll always be learning when you are writing as there’s always facts to check and align with your writing. A writer is never really ‘off duty’, once you have caught the writing bug and have your first book under your belt, you may find you’ll want to write another!. Finally, have fun with your story building and if you love people-watching, you’re onto a winner!
Find The Best Place To Write – For You
What I mean by this is to set yourself up for success by creating a writing mindset and a writing habit. Consistency is king. Hemingway said to write every morning before you do anything else! It’s so easy to get distracted. I like to write every day. I set a limit of 15 minutes, sometimes i do more, sometimes less, but I write every day. Here’s what I do and what I recommend you do too:-
1 Find a safe space where you can relax, be left in peace and which makes you feel good. I like to write in my conservatory, overlooking the garden, with the birdsong in the background. I like silence so that I can concentrate. I know of others who listen to music through headphones. Whatever your ‘safe space’ is, find it and spent time in it. It will help your creative writing flow.
2 Create a Writing Habit
Even if you only write for 15 minutes a day, if you can knock out 250 words a day, that’s 7,500 words in 30 days. Spend 15 minutes a day for six months and you’ll end up with 45,000 words. That’s enough for a book. Start in January and you’ll be done by June. Find an editor, a proofreader and a typesetter or better still, David Hambling, my business partner and you’ll get all of that done, plus a book cover and ISBN included for a very reasonable price! And you’ll have your book ready for launch in good time for the Christmas buyers.
3 Feedback and building your ‘tribe’
When you start out writing, it’s important to get feedback. Is my book idea any good? That’s the first question I usually get asked. That very much depends on who your ideal audience is and what they think of your book. Search them out, invite them into your world, tell them your backstory and why you have started writing your book and share the journey with them.
4 Share your story to Market your book – builds your brand while you write.
I asked a PR and journalist expert how to get my book into the papers. I said I’ve written a book. No word of a lie, their first response was ‘So what?’. Meaning specifically, what makes your book any better than anyone else’s and what they really mean is ‘Why are you so interesting?’. People buy from people. Yes they buy books too but first of all, we have to like who they are and what they represent. Your book ‘why’ is as important as your book iteslf. Be ready to talk about your book project as soon as you start writing. This will help build ‘brand’ loyalty for you and your book.
5 Have fun writing your book – otherwise why bother? Yes, we all talk of ‘Writers block’ but actually, isn’t it just our own minds protecting us from the fear of being no good, of ‘other’ people telling us they don’t like our book, our story or us? If you are going to enjoy writing your book, I’d encourage you to not give a monkeys chuff what others think, (apart from your ideal audience of course). Take encouragement from those you know will support you on the journey and keep your book writing a secret from those who will want to ‘rain on your parade’, put you down or who would want to see you fail. They are out there and we all have them don’t we?
I share lots more tips on my daily Writing Tips on Linkedin, so please connect with me and join in the fun!
If you’d like help with your book writing journey, please get in touch, I’d love to help.