Write A Book in 2023 – Strategies
So, you want to write a book, for reals? Amazeballs, go for it. Don't be afraid of the big bad book monster. There’s a spot on the shelf with your name on it and plenty of room for a new eBook. I’m rooting for you, and I’ve got some valuable advice to pass along. It's info I wish I had when I first jumped on the book-writing road. There are must-haves you need to know about (click the must-haves link for details.) Then there is a plan of action to get you in the right mindset.
Writers who wait, don’t write. Dan Poynter points out that, “If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” Find inspiration or create it. Just write anyway. Write for pleasure because writing brings you joy.
It doesn’t have to be a perfect spot, just someplace you can pump out words undisturbed. Some writers enjoy writing with ambient noise like in a comfy chair at Starbucks. Others prefer an office atmosphere, sitting at a desk. I choose the couch in my living room. Find your cozy spot and start cranking out sentences.
I always start my writing day after a cup of coffee. I settle into my favorite writing spot and meditate for a few minutes, imagining the goals I wish to manifest for the day and I’m mindful of this while I write. Next, I take inspired action. I open my laptop and read what I wrote the day before. This helps me get into the spirit of my story and in the mood to write. I welcome inspiration and will create it if I must.
Are you constantly downing yourself with negative thoughts like “I suck as a writer” “my writing is utter drivel” “no one will want to read this” “why, oh why did I think I could write?” Stop worrying about how horrible your story is and stop branding yourself as a terrible, incompetent writer. Empower yourself instead. Do everything you can to educate yourself about the novel writing craft so you can be proud of your accomplishment when you finally type “the end” on the last page of your manuscript.
Set a Daily Word Count Based on Your Chosen Genre
Some love to do this. I feel it stifles my creativity. If it works for you, do it. Know your genre’s word count and features and be mindful of that when writing.
Outline Your Story
Some writers love outlines. If you're one of them, create an outline of your novel before you start writing so you know exactly where you’re going with it. It doesn’t need to be complicated. A simple outline works for some, others like to outline every chapter. Do what works for you. Get your thoughts on paper before you forget them, then as you write refer to your outline.
Master the Mechanics
Although Ernest Hemmingway is of the opinion that, “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” I say there’s nothing wrong with drilling down on writing essentials like grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Keep the following important details in mind as you compose:
Ditch busy and redundant words.
Incorporate sensory details in every scene.
Add color to enrich your story with new layers of texture, substance, and power.
Balance simple words with sophisticated words. I’ve found that simple is usually best.
Strive for showing instead of telling but strike a balance.
Grasp the Elements of Story Structure and Apply Them
Devising a great story idea is just the beginning. You want readers to keep turning pages and that's accomplished through carrying out the following:
Create a captivating setting. The goal is to transport the reader into the wonderous environment where your characters live. The reader should feel a part of the backdrop as if they're walking alongside the characters, seeing what they see, hearing what they hear. Allow the reader to resonate with all the smells and feels of the surroundings you create. If your setting exists in the real world, let it be authentic by including street names, famous buildings, bridges, or any other aspect that validates the location.
Flesh out your characters and make them as compelling as possible while assigning them identifiable quirks. Integrate minor characters into the story and compose concise yet riveting dialogue that moves the story along. Vary dialogue tags by balancing he said/she asked with action tags, limiting dialogue tags when possible, and throwing in more sophisticated and descriptive tags when warranted. Avoid head-hopping between characters. New writers sometime make this mistake and it's very confusing to readers. Click on the above links for detailed info and explanation.
As Kurt Vonnegut so famously said, “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of.” I’ll take it a step further, kill your darlings! I know that sounds horrible, but some characters must be sacrificed to keep your story fresh and full of surprises. Don’t kill off a character just for the sake of killing, it must make sense. A worthy writer can find a way to keep dead characters a part of the storyline, especially if you write fantasy or sci-fi. Think Albus Dumbledore from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Perfect your plot, subplots, and plot twists, and include stakes, conflict, rising and falling action, and resolution.
Every scene and chapter needs a little something-something to keep the story momentum going and readers craving more. Surprises work well as do small cliffhangers to spark anticipation, but minor resolutions of some character struggles or minor plots also fit the bill.
Take rejection like a boss. If your novel is not right for a particular agent, absorb the feedback, make changes if you agree, then move on to the next agent. Unfortunately, there is a lot of rejection for first-time authors. Lob a positive spin on the dreaded R word - rejection, my darlings, and allow it to make you a better writer. You're not being rejected, you're being redirected. It works for me!
All successful authors have faced rejection. Learn the craft. Write from your heart and the depths of your soul. Write because it’s your passion. Trim, fix, move chapters around, delete scenes that don’t move your story along, cut exposition, find beta readers, join author groups. but never give up! According to Stephen King, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I agree, read, read, read, and write as much as you can every day. As Richard Bach so eloquently put it, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”