Most aspiring authors have been at the point where they have twenty different, brilliant ideas for book plots and try to write every single story all at once.
Or maybe some of you have an idea for one book and start writing without a plot or any sort of idea of where the book is going to end up you just have a few ideas of what you want to include in your book.
The problem with these tactics, is that:
- If you start too many stories at once, you will end up mixing the characters’ personalities and possibly even confusing the plots (not to mention no one has time to finish 17 different novels)
- If you write a book with tons of events with no real goal in mind, your readers are going to be very confused.
Or maybe those tactics work for you just fine. In that case you can stop reading this right now.
But for those who want to write a book but just aren’t sure how…
Here are four tips that have helped me:
1. Write Down Your Plot (Have a Goal)
I cannot begin to explain why this is so important. Taking the time to jot down your basic (or even detailed) plan for you book is very helpful. It doesn’t have to be a 10,000 word document that talks about the type of eyeshadow your character wears, or whether or not your bad guy is going to have green hands or blue hands it can just be a couple pages that tells where you want your book to go and how you are going to get there. I’ve had people tell me that they don’t like plots and that they’re too restricting but have they finished their book? no they haven’t the plot can be changed. Just because you write out one thing, doesn’t mean you have to stick to it like glue. You will thank yourself later for having a plot.
2. Get to Know Your Characters
Know the character of your characters.
Get to know them as if they were characters of your favorite book. (Don’t be ashamed if you can respond to someone the way Elizabeth would to Mr. Collins!) Know your characters quirks. Get to know them like you would your significant other. If you don’t know how your characters are going to respond, or worse, they have a split personality (yikes!) then you should consider jotting down their character qualities until you do know how they act.
This may sound repetitive and cliche, but it works! Some people like to wait for a dose of inspiration, but if you want to get anywhere, you should set some time aside each day to dedicate to your writing. Set a goal of 500 (or if you’re feeling ambitious, 1500) words a day. If you don’t, you will end up with “writer’s block”. (Which may or may not be a sophisticated way of saying “I’m lazy.”)
“Writer’s block’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘I don’t feel like doing any work today.”
I would not disagree.
Also make sure you turn off your internet, unconnect it to wifi, or turn off notifications because they. will. distract. you.
4. Don’t Let Imperfection Slow You Down
Don’t expect your book to be perfect the first time around. Don’t spend twenty hours trying to get “that one sentence” perfected. This is your first draft and it’s not going to be perfect. That job is for after you’ve finished writing your book.
It’s not going to be perfect. You’re getting the details written down in solid form. My first draft of “Escape from the Witch Hunters” was terribly written, but I finished it. Now that my book is finished, I’ll take into account the details that worked, and the ones that did not. Your first version is either going to be 1. a couple of paragraphs that looks like Jane Austen’s books or 2. a complete book that has a lot of mistakes.
And if not, then you are an amazing author with perfect first drafts and I respect you greatly.
In the end, it all (mostly) comes down to perseverance. Do you have perseverance? Can you write a novel and finish it?
Your first “book” doesn’t have to be 100,000 words long. Mine was barely ten pages long, but I finished it, and that is the important part. As long as you keep writing, you’ll keep getting better and better. Pick up that pen, plug in that laptop, open that document, and just write it.
Elizabeth Pau is “Sweet Sixteen” and is the author of Escape from the Witch Hunters. She lives in her fantasy world, loves anything crafty, drinks decaf coffee, and the occasional cup of tea. She loves God, Frederick Wentworth, her family and, of course, writing.