Out of all the questions I receive, the one I get most frequently is, where do I start? It usually goes a little something like this:
Hi Necole! I’m writing a [insert genre of book] and I have no idea where to start! I’ve always wanted to write this book but I don’t know where to begin.
So, here are 5 very easy ways to begin your book:
There is no way (none. zero.) you can be a writer if you aren’t first a reader. You must be an avid reader. Or else, how will you know what good writing is? How will you know how to set up a mystery or a memoir or anything else if that’s not what you read? How can you write a horror novel if you haven’t read a Stephen King book? How can you write a legal thriller without reading John Grisham? How dare you write a children’s book without reading Dr. Seuss? Do you get where I’m going here?
You cannot. I repeat, CANNOT be a writer, without first having been a reader. Read everything. Everything in your genre. For instance, I write young adult fiction. ((YA (or young adult) fiction novels are written for ages ranging from 16-25) Teen fiction is written for ages 10-15) I read young adult fiction. I breathe young adult fiction. Why? Because not only am I reading for pleasure, but I am researching. I am taking copious notes. I am concentrating on character and plot development. I am taking note of the dialogue. I am looking at the conflict between characters, plots and subplots, literary devices, etc. In short, you must READ in order to…
I know it sounds simple, but writing is one of the most important parts, if not the most important. If you are an avid reader, then you will know what makes a good book, correct? Most people get ahead of themselves. We tend to think about how to market our book, or who will buy it before we even open the Word document. The first thing you must do BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE is write. If you don’t write, there is no book, and you won’t even have a product to sell. Don’t think about the book cover or getting it edited. Think about your characters, your plot, what you want to happen. Make an outline, draw a picture. SOMETHING! You must write something before you go any further.
Let’s face it. Your first draft will probably be a hot pile of garbage.
And that’s okay! It’s supposed to be terrible! Don’t think you will get it right on the first go-round. Books, especially good books, are edited three and four times before (probably even more) before going out into the world. First drafts serve their purpose because it’s the foundation of your story. Right now, it’s bare-bones. You have the power to make it into a wonderful masterpiece. How? Let someone else read it. And I don’t mean your mom or your cousin down the street who likes going to the library for the free wi-fi.
Let another writer read it. Join a critique group. You need a professional opinion of your work. You need someone unbiased that will give you helpful and constructive criticism.
4. TAKE A BREAK.
Once you receive that criticism you will probably do one of two things: realize you’re a horrible writer with no future and cry all night (that’s usually what I do) or you’re excited/ready to work on improving your manuscript. I know that’s what most normal people want to do. You want to go back into it and re-do. You have a zillion ideas you want to add. Scenes you want to delete, etc. Sure, write them down, but do not touch your manuscript yet. Take a break. You’ve been looking at it for weeks and your eyes and brain are used to it by now. Come back to it a few weeks later with fresh eyes and you will probably start to see the holes in the plot, misspelled or misused words, etc. A fresh pair of eyes is always, always better than a pair of tired ones.
5. TELL SOMEONE. (Brand yourself)
Now that you’re serious about becoming an author. (I don’t know why anyone would pick this career. I question my own sanity at times). You must tell someone. Tell everyone. Here is where you start an author platform. Not when the book is out. Will you use your real name? Or a pseudonym?
Get a website. Create a Facebook fan page. Start a Twitter account. You are now a brand. Your name should be Google-able. You need to be easily accessible at all times. Once you start to gain followers it will be much easier for it to translate into sales once your book comes out.
So, there you have it. 5 very easy ways to start your book! I look forward to reading it!