Writing a book is a daunting experience. I would know, I’m writing one right now. Although I have published four books already, three books of poetry and one children’s book, this is still a whole new ballgame to me. Why? Because I’m writing my first real full length book, which is a big undertaking. Because this includes research, character development, figuring out the twists and turns, working with story flow, etc. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have dreamed of being an author since I was nine years old and finally made my dream come true. Do you want to write your first book but don’t know where to start? Then read ahead for a five step process to get you writing that first page.
Step 1: Gather your ideas-Do you have several different ideas running around in your head and can’t decide where to start? Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s hard to make a decision when you have a lot of great ideas playing tag in your head. The best thing to do is to sit down and write out your ideas. Write down the basic plot, character sketches, ideas for twists, etc. Flesh out each idea as best you can.
Step 2: Choose an idea-After making the list above, go do something else for awhile or if it’s night time, go to sleep. Either way, spend some time away from your list and then come back to it either several hours later or the next day. Read over each idea and pay attention to what resonates with you or moves something inside you. More than likely, if you have an emotional response to something, then that’s what you should start on. This happens to me a lot.
Step 3: Do some research-Is there a scenario, disease, or illness in regards to your plot or one of your characters you either know nothing about or just the basics? Then go online and research just the surface and use that to develop your characters in the beginning. Once you get the basis of each character down, you can go and flesh them out more. If it’s a scenario, take notes and write out the scene in it’s most basic form.
Step 4: Outline-When I’m getting ready to start a book, I sit down and outline the first three to five chapters right off the bat. Why not the whole book you ask? Because I don’t always know where the story is going to take me. I definitely have the end in mind but sometimes I’m not 100% on how I’m going to get there. I may think my character will do this or that but then I decide something else. I may decide a scenario is going to play out in this way but then decide this other angle is much better. This is why I start with just the first three to five chapters and tweak along the way.
Step 5: Start writing-Now that you have chosen an idea, done some research and outlined at least your first three chapters, you are ready to start writing. For me, my first draft is probably the best part because it can be messy and full of grammar and mistakes and it doesn’t matter. Once you are done with at least one chapter (and if you feel comfortable) let a friend or family member read it. This way, they can catch the little mistakes (grammar, spelling, punctuation) that you can go back and fix easily. They can ask questions and help make something clearer that you may have missed. Once this is done, go back and edit your characters/story line as you see fit. It is your manuscript after all.
Bonus Tip: Always keep a paper and pen near by to write down ideas, character names, conversational snippets, etc. This happens to me all the time. I am always paying attention to people’s names and sometimes I have conversational snippets come at me out of nowhere in my brain. Once home, I type them out on my computer and depending upon what book it’s for, I will tuck it into the appropriate folder.
Now, starting to write your first book doesn’t seem to daunting, does it? By using this simple five step process, you will be on your way to starting your first book in no time. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect right off the bat, it just has to be uniquely yours.
Do you want to know more about publishing a book? Then check out my e-book From Writer To Author: How To Publish A Book In 5 Easy Steps.