How to Write a Book (For Beginners)

Back to basics. I recently had a request for posts specifically geared towards beginners. For those aspiring writers you have an idea and a dream but aren’t really sure how to take that next step. I’m going be breaking down the writing process step by step. It’s important to understand that everything in this post is a general overview of the process. I don’t want you to get the impression that this is something that can be done overnight or in a hurry because you couldn’t do this overnight.

Each individual step is a process in and of itself. Depending on what type of book you want to write it can be easy or hard. It can take a lot of time and a lot of dedication. These steps will at least give you the general idea of what direction to move in and will hopefully give you the basics that you need to get you started.

Here are the five steps for how to write a novel.
Step number one: come up with an idea. This may seem like the easy part, but in my opinion this is one of the more difficult steps of the process. You have to come up with an idea that has substance. It needs to be something that you could write an entire novel about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come up with an idea and thought it was brilliant only to discover later that it was problematic that there wasn’t any conflict at the heart of the story or there was no true antagonist or it simply wasn’t compelling enough to write enough words on it.

So how exactly do you come up with these ideas. Well, it’s kind of up to you. Every writer has their own process for coming up with ideas, for some it’s very organic. They just get an idea and it works and they run with it, or others it’s a little bit of inspiration/manipulation. I’m typically inspired by something around me, whether it’s something I see in the world or a feeling that I have and want to explore. Perhaps a song lyric or a painting that really speaks to me. I usually get some sort of basic idea from that and then I think about okay what could be the story here.

If you think about all of the elements that make up a good story, it’s really easy to take your idea and manipulate it into an idea that’s worth writing a novel about. Decide who is your protagonist, who is the antagonist, what’s the conflict of the story, what journey is the character going to go on what are their goals and motivations once you start thinking about all of these and sort of filling in all of the blanks. You should be able to tell if you have a novel worthy story on your hands. If you are finding that you’re struggling to make the pieces fit then, that may not be an idea that you want to continue developing. You just keep being creative and keep thinking what if, what is and then eventually you come up with an idea that you know is what you want to write your story on.

Step number two: planning. Some people consider themselves to be planners when it comes to writing. That basically means that they take their idea and sit down and just write completely by the seat of their pants and that really works for them. That is awesome.
some people are plotters. If you’re just starting out with a writing journey, I really encourage you to consider doing some planning before you start writing. You need to know who your characters are and where your story is going before the first word is even written. Think about it like this, it would be like going to a brand new place that you’ve never been before and trying to navigate that place without the help of a map or a GPS or directions from a local. It could be done, but it would be rather difficult.

When you’re first starting out, you want to make it as easy as you can for yourself. That’s why planning is really important and highly encouraged. I recommend that you do character charts or profiles for each of your main characters and an outline. Your character turns don’t have to be anything fancy, they just have to serve the purpose of allowing you to get to know those characters as if they were real people. You have to get inside their heads, after all and in order to write truly convincing characters you have to know and understand exactly who that character is and what makes them tick. Their fears, their motivations, their goals, their aspirations, their dreams, their likes, their dislikes, etc. This is a step that you do not want to skip. Once you’ve got your characters down, then it’s time to move on to your outline. You have to know exactly where your story is going so it’s a really important step. Stop, sit down, and figure it all out before you just dive right into the writing.

I can recommend Freytag’s pyramid to outline. It is by far one of the most helpful methods that I have found. By using that method the stories feel much more developed and fleshed out and the actual writing of those stories feels a million times easier than when I used to write without it. You need an outline, you’re the writer, it’s your story, and you have to know all of the inner and outer workings of that story before the first word is ever written. Take some time flesh out your characters and your plot and once you’ve done it’s time to start writing.

Step number three: write the first draft. Here’s what you do you put yourself in a chair, put your fingers on that keyboard and you write that story no matter what. Stop letting self-doubt be a distraction or an excuse. Stop trying to make things perfect. Just write your story. First drafts are usually crappy. It doesn’t matter who you are or how good of a writer you are. This is your first draft. You have a place to start editing. Get the bare bones of your story down on paper.

Step number four: celebrate. You just wrote a novel and that is amazing. So many people say they’re going to write a book and never actually accomplished it, but you did. It’s a good idea to take a little time away from the manuscript, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you so while you’re celebrating and recharging your batteries put the manuscript away. When you are ready dive back in with fresh eyes. Once the rest period is over, it’s time to pick up that manuscript and start revising. At this point, you’re not worried about all the little stuff like grammar and mechanics, you’re focused more on the structure of your story, the development of your characters, the advancement of your plot, and so on.

You may find yourself deleting entire sections and chapters. You may find that you need to rewrite a lot of things, you’ll move stuff around and rename things and do a whole lot of changing,. This can be a good thing and is actually part of the process.You get to take your idea and really start chipping away at it until it becomes something that you’re really proud of. This may also a really great time to enlist the help of beta readers and critique partners. Beta readers and critique partners are invaluable when it comes to feedback.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to take that draft you’re revising and really making the story shine. Send it out to people and get the feedback you need to make that story ten times better than it is. A lot of writers consider this step optional.

Step number five: polishing. Once you’re sure the content of your story is a solid as you can make it, then the next step is to go through and make edits. This is where you’re focusing on those little things where you’re looking for grammatical errors and sentence structure issues, you’re removing filter words and changing up dialogue tags, etc.

At this point, you really should not be making any significant content changes, just fixing those tiny little errors and tightening things up. Once you’ve done that, you have a finished and polished novel. Remember no matter how tough things get just keep writing. Don’t give up, you can do it!

13 Steps To Help You Write

So you want to write a book. I know the feeling I’ve been writing books for many years now. There’s a lot of people out there on the internet and elsewhere, that will try to tell you that writing a book is easy, you can do it fast, they’ve got five steps to writing a best-seller.

I do have 13 foundational steps that you’re going to need to follow if you’re going to write a book. Speed is not the point. Quality is the point.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is establish your writing space. You should never say that you don’t have a place to write, you can write anywhere, but you want to establish what you need. If you need solitude, make sure you find a place in your house where you can shut the door, turn off media and you can have privacy and silence or whatever you need to write. The more you can afford, the better you’ll do as far as equipment and space.

A second important step is to assemble your writing tools. All you need is a notebook and a pencil or your laptop and a comfortable chair. Learn what works for you: if you are out somewhere do you need to take cushion from home so you can sit up straight your back? Your neck are important to your writing too. You’re going to be spending a lot of hours with that notebook or in front of that computer, so don’t scrimp on your computer. When you’re home don’t scrimp on your chair. Make a list of all the things you’re going to need while you’re especially at home. If you need paper clips or a stapler or whatever make sure you have all those within arm’s length so you don’t get distracted by having to look for things.

A third important thing you want to do is to break the project into small pieces. The reason that writing a book seems so colossal is because it is writing a book. Break the task into as many small pieces as you can. Your manuscript in the end is made up of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Just doing one thing at a time, that’s the way to get a handle on it.

Number four is to settle on your big idea. It needs to be a big idea if it’s book worthy. It’s going to be big concept. We don’t have any room in the marketplace anymore for small concept book ideas. If it’s small, use it for a blog or an article. If you tryed to write a book before and you ran into a roadblock at the 20 or 30 day mark or maybe the 20 or 30 page mark, it could be because your idea wasn’t big enough. How do you know if your idea is big enough? If it has legs, it stays with you. If you tell your friend what your book is about and every time you tell them it gets bigger, that’s a book that’s going to last in the marketplace.

Step 5 is to construct your outline. Even if it is on one side of one sheet of paper, give yourself some direction of where you’re going. Now some people especially if you’re a beginning writer, your editor or your agent may need to see an entire synopsis of your novel idea so you’ll have to do more of an outline than you might have done later. Agents and editors demand outlines for nonfiction. There’s no writing a nonfiction book without an outline. They want to know what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, where you’re getting your information, and what your points are going to be. Now we often talk in fiction about the marathon of the middle and how that stops everybody. That’s one of the places that you might begin to wonder, why did I ever think I could do this? That’s the marathon of the middle. You can’t just survive it or endure it, you have to thrive in it because the reader is right with you. If it seems boring to you, your reader is asleep. This happens to be true of nonfiction as well. Now you’ll take care of that with your outline, and for nonfiction you’ll know that your middle has enough good stuff in it. In fiction be sure you’re saving a lot of big setups and payoffs for that marathon in the middle. You can do the same in nonfiction. In fiction you don’t have the same number of elements as far as tension and conflict and dialogue. You still need to set up in the payoff for your non-fiction book. Say you’re writing a nonfiction book about how to build a model ship. You need to set it up so that it looks impossible until your specific solution comes through, that’s your setup and payoff. Don’t be intimidated by an outline, your outline serves you not the other way around. If you’ve got an outline and you find yourself drifting from it or you think the book is working in a different, better direction, make your outline work for you.

Number six and that is: to set a firm reading schedule that includes a firm deadline. That hangs up too many beginning writers if they don’t have a publishers deadline. Set your own and notice if you we to fudge on our own deadlines. Make sure you don’t do that. Keep your deadline firm. The way you do that is to figure out roughly how many pages you’re going be writing for your book. 300, 400, 500 and divide that into the number of days you’re allotting yourself to write. This may change once you get started and realize how many or how few pages you can write per day. If you schedule yourself for 10 pages a day and you’re really not comfortable with more than four or five, change your schedule, change your deadline. Once you get it locked in, keep it firm. As a publisher I found that only about 1 in 100 writers literally meet their deadlines. If you just do that, you set yourself apart from ninety nine out of a hundred writers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re going find the time to write. You need to schedule the time you need to get your writing finished. Schedule your days right on your calendar and keep those appointments.

Seven is to conduct your research. A lot of people miss the fact that research is just as important for fiction as well as nonfiction. If you miss a small detail of history or aircraft or weaponry, you can be sure readers are going to point this out specificity. Having the details correct lends credibility to fiction and fiction needs to be believable. Once you’ve done your research, you might be tempted to show that off to the reader. You want to resist that urge. Your research is not your main course, the story is the main course. Research is the seasoning that adds that specificity that gives you credibility and believability.

Number eight is to write a compelling reader first opener. Give it the time it deserves because if you can pull off an important compelling first line, it will set the tone for your entire book. You probably won’t write a more important line than that first one. Most first lines fall into one of these categories: surprising, dramatic statement, philosophical, or poetic. By making your reader first, every decision you make in your manuscript goes through that filter. Reader first not you first, not editor first, not agent first, not reviewer first, not critic first, reader first. You want that first sentence to be the best, most compelling, most moving, most emotional experience they’ve ever had. It will keep your reader reading more.

Number nine is to fill your story with conflict and tension, readers crave tension and yes, this applies to nonfiction as well. Almost every time a writer shows me their manuscript and says, “I don’t know where to go from here”, it’s because they got to a point where the people on the page are agreeing with each other too much. We like that in real life. It’s nice to have pleasant conversations, talk with your spouse or friends over a meal. There’s nothing more boring in fiction than that, so what you want to do is inject that. Have one of those characters say something totally off-the-wall, maybe once this isn’t it a beautiful day and the other one says “oh sure, you would say that”. All of a sudden the reader and that character are going, “what was that about? Where did that come from?” That’s conflict. What’s the problem in their relationship, what’s the underlying tension that caused that conflict? That will keep people turning the pages and you want to do that on every page even if it’s just a matter of someone setting up an appointment. They need to see the doctor tomorrow. There’s an implication there that something’s coming up otherwise why would the author put it in there? Now in nonfiction, how do you do that? You don’t want unpleasantness. It doesn’t have to be something negative. It doesn’t have to be a battle or a war or a fight. Conflict and tension come up in nonfiction simply by promising and then delivering, setting up and paying off. Some of the best nonfiction writers and ones who have spent the first several chapters promising you what you’re going to get when you finish reading this book and then they deliver.

Step number ten is to turn off your internal editor while you’re writing your first draft. Most writers I know are perfectionists. When you have that inner critic sitting on our shoulder telling you what’s wrong with every word you write, that inner critic just needs to be told to shut up. Now is not the time to be criticizing your own work. Always save your editing until the next day at least and the longer you can wait between when you write it and when you edited it the better for the end product. Turn off that internal editor, get your story down, and then tell yourself that the next day you can put your perfectionist cap back on and have at it.

Remember in point number five when I mentioned the marathon in the middle? I want to make that point eleven and hit that again because if there’s any place you’re gonna quit, it’s going to be during the marathon in the middle. This is the toughest spot for everyone. When you hit the marathon in the middle you begin to wonder why did I get into this business? The problem with the marathon of the middle is we’ve all got great ideas to start and we can’t wait to get to that big finish, but now we’ve got a couple hundred pages in the middle to fill. If you just start padding it in fiction with extra scenes or nonfiction with extra points your reader is going to drop off the page. This is where you don’t just survive, you thrive.

Number 12 is to write a resounding ending. You want your book to end the way a Broadway play ends when that curtain comes down with a satisfying thud. You make sure your ending doesn’t fizzle, you give it the time it deserves. Don’t settle for second best if it takes longer to write your ending than the rest of the book so what? Do whatever it takes to make it work. If you’ve got several ideas for how what might be best, go for the one that is the most emotional because readers remember what moves them.

Last and most important point step 13 is that you need to become a ferocious self. What does it mean to be ferocious? You know what it means, it means to be aggressive. Everything else is for naught if you don’t polish your manuscript to the point where you’re happy with every word. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect or that you don’t need an editor or if you should place it with a publisher. You need to polish that thing until it sings. Why, because agents and editors can tell within two minutes whether your manuscript is going to be worth reading or rejecting. That doesn’t sound fair and maybe it isn’t fair, but they have so many things to read, the competition is so vast, they’ve learned to be able to tell within a page or two whether this has potential or not. That puts all the onus on you to self-edit. If you pay an editor, what is the publisher buying? Your work or someone else’s? Learn to edit yourself.

Steps for How to Write a Book

So you want to write a book I know the feeling. I’ve been writing books for many years now and I have a number of foundational steps that you can follow if you’re going to write a book. Speed is not the point, quality is the point.

To begin, establish your writing space. Establish what you need so if you need solitude make sure you find a place in your house where you can shut the door or you can turn off media and you can have privacy, silence, and whatever you need to write. The more you can afford, the better you’ll do as far as equipment and space.

The next important step is to assemble your writing tools. Learn how that works for you.Your back and your neck are important to your writing. You’re going to be spending a lot of hours in front of that computer so don’t scrimp on your computer and when you’re home don’t scrimp on your chair.

Make a list of all the things you’re going to need while you’re at home. If you need paper clips or a stapler or whatever make sure you have all those within arm’s length so you don’t get distracted by having to look for things.

Another important thing you want to do is to break the project into small pieces. The reason that writing a book seems so colossal is because it is writing a book. Break the task into as many small pieces as you can. You have to realize yes it’s a 4 or 500 page manuscript in the end. That’s made up of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Just doing a step one at a time that’s the way to get a handle on it.

The next step is to settle on your big idea. It needs to be a big idea if it’s book worthy. It’s going to be a big concept. If it’s a small idea use it for a blog or an article. It has to be big. I can’t overstate the importance of this. If you try to write a book before and you ran into a roadblock at the 20 or 30 day mark or maybe the 20 or 30 page mark it could be because your idea wasn’t big enough.

How do you know if your idea is big enough and if it has legs. If it stays with you, if you tell your spouse, or your friend what your book is about and every time you tell them it gets bigger that’s a book that’s going to last in the marketplace too.

Next construct your outline. If you are a pantser (one who writes by the seat of your pants) you can have some sort of idea where you’re going, even if it’s on one side of one sheet of paper. Give yourself some direction of where you’re going. Now some people especially if you’re a beginning writer, your editor or your agent may need to see an entire synopsis of your novel idea so you’ll have to do more of an outline than you might have to do later. Agents and editors demand outlines for nonfiction. There’s no writing a nonfiction book without an outline. The agent or editor want to know what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, where you’re getting your information, and what your points are going to be.

Every time you get to the halfway or 3/4 point (what is referred to as the marathon of the middle) remember the reader is right with you. If it seems boring to you, your reader is asleep too. If this happens you’ll take care of that with your outline.

In nonfiction, you’ll know that your middle has enough good stuff in it. For fiction, especially if you’re a panther, you better be sure you’re saving a lot of big setups and payoffs for that marathon in the middle. You can do the same in nonfiction. The same structure works for nonfiction. In fiction you don’t have the same number of elements as far as tension and conflict and dialogue and that type of thing but you still need to set up in the payoff. Make your non-fiction book say you’re writing a nonfiction book about how to __________. You need to set it up so that it looks impossible until your specific solution comes through. That’s your setup and payoff.

Remember don’t be intimidated by an outline. Your outline serves you not the other way around. If you have an outline and you find yourself drifting from it or you think the book is going in a different direction, better change the outline. Don’t change the book, make your outline and work from it.

The next step six is to set a firm reading schedule. That includes a firm deadline that you keep firm. This is a thing that hangs up too many beginning writers, they don’t have a publishers deadline so they have to set their own. Sometimes an author tends to fudge on our own deadlines. Make sure you don’t do that. Keep your deadline firm. The way you do that is you figure out roughly how many pages you’re going be writing for your book. If it’s 300, 400, or 500, divide that into the number of days you’re allotting yourself to write. This may change once you get started and realize how many or how few pages you can write per day. If you schedule yourself for 10 pages a day and you’re really not comfortable with more than four or five, change your schedule. Change your deadline. Once you get it locked in, keep it firm.

Statistics show that only about 1 in 100 writers literally meet their deadlines. If you just do that, you set yourself apart from ninety nine out of a hundred writers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re going to find the time to write. When you have to write you have to have something taken out of your schedule. Is that an hour or two of sleep at night, is it a concert, is it a ballgame, is it a movie, is it a favorite TV show? How bad do you want this. Schedule your days right on your calendar or on your computer. Keep that deadline firm.

The next step is to conduct your research. Everybody knows that you need to do that automatically for nonfiction. You have to be an expert in what you’re writing about and not just drawing on your own experience. Show that you immersed yourself and all the writing in your field is accurate.

A lot of people miss the fact that research is just as important for fiction. It could be even more important if you miss a small detail of history or aircraft or weaponry. You can be sure readers are going to point this out specificity. It establishes credibility to fiction and fiction needs to be believable. Once you’ve done your research, you’re going to be tempted to show that off to the reader. You want to resist that urge. Your research is not your main course, the story is the main course. Research is the seasoning that adds that specificity. It is what gives you credibility and believability.
Make sure your research becomes seasoning and that it’s right, because readers notice.

The next step is to write a compelling opener. Give it the time it deserves, because if you can pull off an important compelling first line it will set the tone for your entire book. You probably won’t write a more important line than that first one. Most first lines fall into one of these categories: surprising, dramatic statement, philosophical, or poetic. A dramatic statement keeps the reader reading. The first decision you make in your manuscript should go through that filter of reader first. Not you first, not editor first, not agent first, not reviewer first, not critic first, reader first. Writa a sticky noteto yourself reminding you that you wanted to be the best, most compelling, most moving, most emotional experience your reader has ever had. Think reader first, not anybody else first, so think reader first, last, and always.
The next step is to fill your story with conflict and tension. Readers crave tension and yes, this applies to nonfiction as well. Almost every time a writer shows a their manuscript and says I don’t know where to go from here it’s because they got to a point where the people on the page are agreeing with each other too much. We like that in real life. It’s nice to have pleasant conversations or talking with your spouse over a meal. That you’re talking about how nice a day it is and what you’re going to do, there’s nothing more boring in fiction than that. What you want to do is have one of those characters say something totally off-the-wall. Maybe this isn’t a beautiful day and the writer writes in a conflict. What’s the problem in their relationship, what’s the underlying tension that caused that conflict. That will keep people turning the pages. You want to do that on every page, even if it’s just a matter of someone setting up an appointment. They need to see the doctor tomorrow, there’s an implication, something’s coming up otherwise. Why would the writer put it in there? In nonfiction, how do you do that, you don’t want unpleasantness, it doesn’t have to be something negative, it doesn’t have to be a battle or a war or a fight conflict. The tension comes up in nonfiction simply by promising and then delivering. Setting up and paying off are some of the best nonfiction writing and ones who have spent the first several chapters promising you what you’re going to get when you finish reading this book and then they deliver.

The next step is to turn off your internal editor while you’re writing your first draft. Most writers lean towards being perfectionist(s). That inner critic sitting on our shoulder telling you what’s wrong with every word you write. That inner critic is just you or me and that critic needs to be told to shut up. Now is not the time to be criticizing your own work. Always save your editing until the next day at least or longer. You can wait between when you write it and when you edit it the better for the end product. This is the opening pages of a work-in-progress.

Next if you wouldn’t show this first draft off to your worst enemy, don’t worry about cliches, redundancies, or lacks of logic. Get the story down and turn off that internal editor. Get your story down and then tell yourself that the next day you can put your perfectionist cap back on and have at it.

Remember the marathon in the middle? Look at that again because if there’s any place you’re going quit, it’s going to be during the marathon in the middle. This is the toughest spot for every writer. Yo will wonder and ask yourself, why did I get into this business? The problem with the marathon of the middle is we’ve all got great ideas to start and we can’t wait to get to that big finish but now we’ve got a couple hundred pages in the middle to fill. If you just start padding it in fiction with extra scenes or nonfiction with extra points, your reader is going to drop off the page. This is where you don’t just survive, you thrive. Set up your payoffs so well in the middle that you can hardly wait to get to the ending. The ending will work better because you didn’t just persevere through the marathon you arrived.

Next is to write a resounding ending. You want your book to end the way a Broadway play ends when that curtain comes down with a satisfying thud. Even nonfiction has to have that great ending. How do you make sure your ending doesn’t fizzle? You give it the time. If you rush it or just don’t know how to make it work keep at it, don’t settle for second best. If it takes longer to write your ending than the rest of the chapters do whatever it takes to make it work. If you’ve got several ideas for how what might be best, go for the one that is the most emotional. Readers remember what moves them.

The last and most important point is that you need to become your ferocious self. What does it mean to be ferocious? You know what it means it means to be aggressive. Everything else is for naught if you don’t polish your manuscript to the point where you’re happy with every word. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect or that you don’t need an editor. If you should place it with a publisher, you need to polish that thing until it sings. Why because agents and editors can tell within two minutes whether your manuscript is going to be worth reading or rejecting. That doesn’t sound fair and maybe it isn’t fair, but they have so many things to read the competition is so vast, they’ve learned to be able to tell within a page or two whether your manuscript has potential or not. That puts all the pressure on you to self-edit. Learn to edit yourself, cut, or add power. go you

How to Write a Book: 12 Foundational Steps

So you want to write a book? Here are 12 good foundational steps that you can follow.
1) Establish your writing space. Decide what you need: solitude? Make sure you find a place where you can have privacy and silence. Set up your equipment and space so you can easily write.
2) Assemble your writing tools. Make a list of all the things you’re going to need: EX: paper clips or a stapler. Have those within arm’s length so you don’t get distracted by having to look for things if you need them.
3) Break the project into as many small pieces as you can. Realize it’s a 4 to 500 page manuscript in the end but that’s made up of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Do one step at a time.
4) Settle on your big idea or storyline.
5) Construct your outline to have some sort of idea where you are going. Outlining ideas are covered in another post for you. Give yourself some direction of where you’re going. Your outline serves you not the other way around. If you find yourself drifting from it, change the outline, don’t change the book.
6) Set a firm writing schedule that includes a definite finish time. The way you do that is figure out roughly how many pages you are going to write for your book, (300, 400, 500,etc) and divide that into the number of days you are giving yourself to write. This may change once you get started and realize how many or how few pages you can write per day. Schedule yourself for the number of pages you can comfortably write. Be determined so you will stay on schedule. It can be adjusted as needed. Only about 1 in 100 writers literally meet their deadlines. If you just meet your finish goal, you set yourself apart from ninety nine out of a hundred writers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re going find the time to write because without a dedicated time schedule you will be distracted by a concert, a ballgame, a favorite TV show or other events in your life.
7) Draw from your own experience and research the details you are using in your content. If you can pull off a compelling first line, it will set the tone for your entire book. Every decision you make in your manuscript should go through the filter of your reader first, not you first, not editor first, not agent first, not reviewer first, or not critic first. Reader first.
8) Fill your story with conflict and tension when it is appropriate for your story line. Readers crave tension and yes this applies to fiction and nonfiction as well. What will keep people turning the pages.
9) Turn off your internal editor while you’re writing your first draft. Most writers I know are perfectionist s and have that inner critic sitting on our shoulder telling us what’s wrong with every word we write. That inner critic is just you or me and that critic needs to be told to shut up now. Always save your editing until the next day at least and the longer you can wait between when you write it and when you edit it the better for the end manuscript.
10) The marathon is in the middle. If there’s any place you want to quit it’s going to be during the middle of your book. We have great ideas to start and we can’t wait to get to that big finish but now we’ve got all those pages in the middle to fill. Keep yourself encouraged as you go through this section.
11) Write a resounding ending. To make sure your ending doesn’t fizzle, you give it the time it deserves. Do whatever it takes to make it work. Try several endings to see what will fit the best with the whole story.
12) Polish your manuscript to the point where you’re happy with every word. If you are going to a publisher they can tell within a few minutes whether your manuscript is going to be worth reading or rejecting.

5 Mistakes New Writers Make (and how to avoid them)

Today I wanted to talk about  a common question that I’ve gotten since I started giving writing advice. Strangely enough that has to do with mistakes. Everyone wants to know more than just what to do, they want to know what not to do. Here are my top 5 mistakes that I see beginning writers make. Now these mistakes aren’t just exclusive to beginners, anybody can actually make these mistakes. The first step to correcting it is always to realize what you’re actually doing wrong and then the better you get as a writer the easier it will be to avoid these things.

Number one: Wasted words

A lot of new writers are concerned about writing enough that it qualifies as a substantial novel or they’re concerned about writing enough about every single scene that the reader can picture perfectly in their minds.

Every beginning writer worries about this but I’ve come to realize as most writers do at some point that they have plenty to say there’s no need to over explain a scene. Oftentimes the reader can build an image in their mind with minimal description from you. A huge cause of this is actually excitement for writing.  You’re finally doing it, you’re finally sitting down to write a story that’s been in your mind for who knows how long, but sometimes at the end of a writing session you may find that you’ve written 1,600 words about your character brushing their teeth and picking out their wardrobe. You’re on the right track if you’re excited to be writing, but you need to make sure that you weed out all these extra words in the editing phase to keep yourself from falling in the word emic word trap. You should periodically ask the question is this part really necessary? You should always make sure that each part you write contributes something to the story.

If it’s not developing your character or creating suspense, adding tension or setting the scene then you probably shouldn’t take the time to write it.  Some people might think well, I want people to know exactly what my character is wearing so the scene feels real. For specific questions like this I often find there’s an easy solution available. In regards to clothing, you can always describe the type of clothing the character wears and then you don’t have to talk about it again. For example, you can mention that your main character loves to dress in casual comfy clothes and then you don’t really have to go into specifics anymore. Every time after that that you mentioned them getting dressed you can just say they got dressed. The reader already knows that that person likes a particular type of clothes so they’re probably not going to draw up this crazy off-the-wall image of what your characters wearing. Your readers are pretty smart. Just make sure you don’t shove a bunch of description down your readers throat because really no one wants to read about your character brushing their teeth unless the toothpaste has poison in it.

Number two: Not Enough Voice or I should just say problems with voice.

This is one thing that sometimes takes writers a little while to figure out their own voice. I think two things affect the type of voice that you have     (1 the stories that you tell and then (2 the way that you tell them. When reading a novel this can sometimes be the feel of the novel.Your voice can be brief, eloquent, lyrical, or fast-paced. Every author’s story feels different in some way and this is what you want. Many times writers can be drawn to a particular subject because they’re passionate about it and passion is very important for writers. The way that each person writes that story though, varies greatly depending on the sentence structure, word choice and individual stylistic preferences. Stephen King’s little red riding-hood would sound nothing like Marissa Meyers because they have different voices even though they would both be about a little red writing.

Finding your voice can take time and unfortunately the best way to do that is to continue writing. You can also find your voice through reading. Things you don’t like and in things that you love. Over time you’ll end up incorporating these small things into your own writing and molding your own unique voice. It’s good to be different from one another so you should never try to copy somebody else’s voice. If you’re inspired by someone’s voice that’s a different thing. You might actually find yourself guilty of this after rereading a lot of the same authors books. You can subconsciously adopt their voice. You will discover it  when you reread what you have just written. Because it wasn’t your voice you  were being an impostor.  Don’t steal someone else’s voice because your reader will probably know.

Number three: Lack of conflict or too much.

You need action in a story. If you get to the end of a chapter and nothing has physically happened you are NOT going have this. You don’t need explosions  running in every single chapter but physical things need to occur and oftentimes the best way to do that is through conflict.

Now there can be internal conflicts and there can be external conflict. Each chapter needs at least one of these when I read all about a character’s day and nothing happens it gets really boring I’ve said this before but each word that you choose is precious.  You need to hook your readers and then keep them hooked. A really good way to do that is through conflict. Pretty much, things just need to happen to your character. If you reflect on your own day, sometimes things just don’t go your way in the long run. They may not necessarily be relevant to your story line, but it’s kind of a bonus if they are.

There is such a thing as too much conflict though. A balance must be maintained as with most aspects of writing. You never want your readers to go through unnatural conflict and tenses. A lot of errors that come along with tenses actually have to do with using simple past and past perfect incorrectly.

Here  is a grammar rundown really quickly: just watching simple past is obviously recounting something that happened in the past past perfect. Recounting something that happened leading up to an event that happened in the past past perfect often involves certain key words like already, until, before and sometimes. After for example, I went to pick up my car, but they had already taken the engine apart. That is a past perfect sentence. If you want more examples, I would definitely Google until you get the hang of this. It can get really tricky when you switch from simple past to past perfect and then back to simple past. If you’re already writing in the past tense and a character flashes back to a point further in their past, then you must use past perfect even though technically they’re both in the past.

Most grammar rules can be learned naturally through reading without all the confusion of these explanations, but this one in particular I had to take time to research before I learned all these differences. I could read a sentence and know that something was wrong with it. I just wouldn’t have know what exactly it was. If this sometimes happens to you, then I would take a look at your tenses or see if there’s some other grammatical mistakes in your sentences

Number 5: Always show and not tell.

Sometimes telling is the better option. Show doesn’t ever have to be longer than tell. It just has to make the reader feel. This goes along very much with number 1 which was wasted words. You don’t want to ramble on and on  about something if it can take you just a few words to tell it instead.  Showing is what makes us feel so much more for the characters. You just have to make sure that you don’t use too many words to do the showing. Oftentimes when I find something out of balance in the show area, it has to do with the characters emotions or how they react to something. Typically you should never shy away from putting your reader in the characters seat and describing exactly what they’re feeling, how their gut felt or how their chest felt tight or whatever the case may be or is. If they’re angry during the break-up you should use more than just the words for the emotions. All right so that’s all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed this lesson.