The other day a friend of mine asked me how to write a book and I was like…. ummmmm. You see, there is no definitive answer. I made a rambling video about it, which you can see below but I thought I’d also type out my tips because it’ll probably be a lot clearer!
Planner or Discovery writer
This is pretty self-explanatory. A discovery writer writes without anything planned out, they have an idea and run with it, the story then grows organically.
Planners plan, obviously. They’ll layout each chapter in detail.
Or, you can be a bit of both 🙂
Research is important no matter what kind of writer you are. Always research, know what you’re talking about. It’ll ensure you’re not insensitive and you’re not going to get pulled up on silly mistakes.
Write well-rounded characters by understanding who they are at their core. Everyone reacts to the same situation in a different way. Quirks are good but they’re more of a superficial layer, you need to dig a little deeper.
Structure is really important and editors are great at picking up any weaknesses in this area. For a structure to work it needs to follow the basic story arc of beginning, middle and end, i.e. introduce us to the characters and situation, build on it and then tie it all together. It’s probably familiar advice to you, but it’s important to remember that it’s all about knowing where you’re going with your story. If you don’t know where you’re going, that’s when your structure falls apart.
When you’re writing dialogue the best way to find out if it sounds natural is to read the lines aloud. Also, you should be able to tell who is talking without seeing the name of the person.
Plotting is about pacing. You need to keep the momentum going, you can do this by throwing challenges at your characters so that they have the opportunities to grow and show how they can overcome problems.
I haven’t yet had to fully world-build but to create a world you need to be thorough. A world becomes alive by the small observations, the smell and taste of a city’s traditional cake, how they greet each other etc. Small customs are what make a new world feel real and that’s the goal, to bring it alive.
Show don’t Tell
It’s really easy to slip into telling instead of showing, particularly when you know a lot about what you’re writing. If someone is upset don’t write that they’re sad, show that they’re upset by them having a lump in their throat, etc.
Essentially writing a book comes down to one thing, telling a story. That’s all it is. The other stuff will come.