Monday, April 22, 2013

Writing 101: How to Write a Book

Regular readers know that I'm not the biggest fan of writer forums. I think would-be authors ask too many questions instead of doing their own research. But recently I realized it isn't their fault they're so lost.

It's mine, because I haven't yet explained how to write a book. It's time to fix that.

Turning the Page

So you want to write a book. Learn the process, and this very ambitious plan wont seem so overwhelming.

In order to write a book, all you have to do is break it down to its most basic parts and plot points. For this example, we're going to write a book about two best friends who fall in love. But the template is solid, and you can use it for any story.

When you write a book, always keep the big picture in mind. Every word should drive the plot further. Allow me to illustrate:

  • Introduction: Start with the scenes that introduce your main character. Show the reader what this person is like. Maybe she's a free spirit, so the opening scene is her bungee jumping. This gives the reader immediate information.
  • Introduce the cast: What's this world like? Show the character in her normal life, interacting with the people who make up her world.
  • Introduce the drama: Time to meet the love interest (or whatever it is that will move your plot forward). Set it up for the action.
  • Show the action: Okay, introductions over. Time to make stuff happen. Throw obstacles in the way, give your characters challenges. Allow them to succeed or fail.
  • Progress: Readers want to know they're getting somewhere. Make sure your character is reacting. They should grow and change in direct relation to the events of the book. Lets use our example. A girl in love might change her appearance, maybe join activities to get her closer to the one she loves.
  • Result: The character is reacting and taking action. What are the consequences of that? It helps that there are only two possibilities. It will either push the character closer to their goal, or set them back.
  • End: Know how it ends, or your story will meander along with no purpose at all. Always be driving toward the end.
And everything else? It's mostly cosmetic. Once your plot is in place, either on the page or in your mind, the details are easy. Be descriptive without going overboard, edit until you just can't edit anymore, check the story for flow and accuracy...and you're on your way.

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