Writing a Book: How to Get Started

Updated on August 1, 2018

Let's Get Started Writing Your Book

You've got a story idea, that's great! Now, let's sit down and prepare that story idea to become the book you've always envisioned.

  • First, you will need to know what genre your book belongs to.
  • Second, you should do some research of books that are popular and selling in this genre.
  • Third, start putting together your outline and fleshing out your characters.

Your path to writing your book.
Your path to writing your book.

It's Time To Realize Your Dream & Write That Book

"If you don't see the book you want on the shelf, write it." -Beverly Cleary

What Are Book Genres? How Do You Know Which One Fits Your Book?

Genre is a style or category of the story. Genre controls what you write and how you write it. It describes the style of the novel.

Genres govern manuscript length, character types, settings, themes, and plots.

There are often sub-genres within genres, for example, a romance story with elements of suspense and mystery could be labeled as: Romantic Suspense.

It is important to find out which genre your book falls into. This will help you shape your book to fit the category that readers are looking to read.

What Books/Authors Are Popular In The Genre You Are Writing In?

Here comes some research. But, fun research.

--Grab a notebook and a pen.

--Go on Amazon and see what books are top sellers in your genre.

--Research the authors of those books. (Go on their websites and social media-see what they are doing and model your own social presence like theirs. Don't copy it-but make it similar)

--Check their reviews. See what their readers liked or didn't like about their books. This will give you tips about what to avoid or emulate in your own writing.

Research Books Like Yours

Next, Outline Your Book

Outlining your book can be one of the most intimidating processes you face while writing your book (Writing the Synopsis is the other most intimating-but more on that later!)

There are several methods: The Snowflake method, The Three-Act Structure, The Hero's Journey, The Fretag Plot Outline Model, and being a "panster" flying by the seat of your pants= no outline.

You should look into each and see if they appeal to you and the way you like to organize your thoughts.

The method I use is the Box Method ( I came up with this one!). I draw 10-20 boxes on a blank piece of paper. These boxes represent chapters. In each box, I write a brief summary of what happens. This gives you a visual of the story that's easy to see. Some authors put index cards up on the wall--but that is too over stimulating for me in the beginning stages of organizing the book. I think in the beginning, the process needs to be as simple as possible.

You may need to make several box outlines until it feels right. It will be important to keep the beginning middle and end in mind as you go along. Just get it out--free write everything out into the boxes.

Don't worry about subplots at this stage. Don't worry about dialogue or character descriptions, or character names or backstory. Put the skeleton of the story into the boxes. The most important thing is to get the story out. We will work on the other stuff later. That will be fleshing out the skeleton. You need to work in layers and take one step at a time.

(Side Note:)The length of the book will determine how many words you need for each chapter. For example if you're writing a 10,000-20,000 word book each chapter can be approximately, 1,000 words long. If the book is 45,000 to 55,000 words long, you can budget for approximately, 3,000 words per chapter (In most romance books it is expected that you will switch POV (point of view) between the male love interest and the female love interest, so you can figure approximately 1,500 words per POV switch per chapter. (This helps with pacing and consistency)

Give it a try and see if this simple (no index cards or different colored pens needed) outlining method helps you! I'd love to hear what you think of it!

You have a magical story inside you. It's time to let it out.
You have a magical story inside you. It's time to let it out.

© 2018 Jennifer Laird

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