11 steps to write a book

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A beginners guide to writing and storytelling

There are many ways to write a book, but not many that will keep you sane or help you actually finishing your project. At times, the internet might make you think you could write a book in a month. Stephen King writes 6 pages a day and he is the most prolific writer I know. So, you maybe cannot keep up with his pace and that’s OK. Nobody can. But there are ways to plan, write and finish a book for absolute beginners. Later, when you know what are you doing, you can change it up. Best, start with short stories, continue with novellas and when you finally feel epic, then start your first full blown novel. Good luck!

From idea to plotting

1.    Have a GREAT idea – fiction or non-fiction? You never wrote anything but you feel you want to write a novel? Start with short stories. Master the craft of storytelling - most of the famous writers started that way. When you feel or have proof (award!) that you are a decent storyteller you are ready!

2.    Do RESEARCH and RE-EVALUATE your idea – is it still worth your time? Was it done many times before? Can you add something new to the story? Will it amaze people? Because if not – probably nobody will want to read it.

3.    Pick a GENRE/TOPIC and check out the rules within – can you make it work for you, can you change the rules in a fun way? Genre-MASHUPS are a great setting to tell a story!

it is hard work - do not give up!

it is hard work - do not give up!

Figure out the exciting plot, awesome characters and sum it up

4.    A. Fiction: Plan the plot! Do not start writing before you figured out the BEGINNING, the END and at least one major TWIST (landmarks!). When you write a crime or mystery story it helps to start mapping from the ending – to put the cart before the horse, so to say.

    B. Non-fiction: do your research as detailed as possible and make an outline (SUMMARY). Establishing structure is very helpful, otherwise you might get lost in the huge amount of information.

5.    A. Fiction: Come up with interesting CHARACTERS and backstories and goals and as detailed as possible. The more time you spend with them, the more “real” they will become. Make them talk – when they talk you follow the famous “SHOW DON’T TELL”

     B. Non-fiction: collect/order VISUAL MATERIAL if necessary.

6     Write the EXPOSÈ: summary, blurb, story line and characters, maybe also context and subtext. You will know your book in and out, before even starting it. I admit, this is nobodies favorite – but very helpful, as you learn how to pitch your book idea and makes it less awkward when you have to do it later on.

Do not forget to think about the marketing

Do not forget to think about the marketing

Write, edit, rewrite - repeat!

7. Start WRITING, chapter by chapter. knowing everything will make it so much easier to finish. Edit after finishing a chapter - or even better: after the whole first draft. Don’t get hung up on details. Get it all out. After finishing, take a break. CELEBRATE!

8. Edit, rewrite, repeat. It is a good idea to have some professional help at this stage. Pro tip: read it out loud! When you stumble over a word or sentence, your future reader will too! It is also a great way to fix punctuation. If you cannot afford an editor, take long breaks between the drafts, so when you re-read it, it feels like somebody else has written it – and it so much easier to edit! 

9.      The manuscript will never feel finished after endless rewrites and editing. Trust the evaluation of your editor (if you got one) and make peace with it – after all, you had professional help! Or you take again a big break – and reread it as your future reader. Do not forget to CELEBRATE again: congratulation, you finished a novel!

Get help, figure out your marketing and finish up!

10.      Did anything change from the original exposé? Adjust the exposé, blurb etc. Write an honest cover letter and send it to agents and publishers. It might take some time to get an answer and if nobody takes it, you can publish it yourself – it is not so difficult anymore.

11.   Never forget: Publishing does not sell books (no matter if you have an agent, publisher or self-publish). MARKETING does. It is best to tell everybody you are writing a novel while you are writing. Let EVERYBODY know! Show some excerpts. Pre-publish the first chapter to get some feedback. But do not ask dumb questions like how should I name my character? or how do I start a chapter? It is your choice. You are the god(ess) of your world. It is your responsibility!

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