By Dawn Field
What if you are one of those people who knows ‘there’s a book in me?’
Congratulations. Just having a book-sized idea is an achievement. But nothing feels better than getting it down on paper and out the door.
For some, the process of getting a book out the door is short and straightforward. For others, it’s about trudging a tortuous, seemingly endless path. It will all depend on the topic, what you know about it at the beginning, your level of experience in writing, external circumstances that dictate how much time and concentration you have free to expand on the project, natural talent, and many other contributing factors.For some, the process of getting a book out the door is short and straightforward. For others, it’s about trudging a tortuous, seemingly endless path. Click To Tweet
The Process of Writing a Book
Book-writing is a wide spectrum of experiences and no writers follow the same path—just like no two books are carbon copies. No matter how you get to the end of your book, it will be a unique journey, shaped by your experiences, knowledge, and creative ideas.
If you have a burning idea worth writing a book about how do you get started? One way is to consult the wide range of writing advice that is out there. What you won’t find is a recipe for YOUR project. What you will find are recipes, that have produced books for other authors (for example, here is an excellent video reviewing 10 popular methods for outlining novels, including not outlining but just writing). One might be perfect for you, your story, and your experience level. And don’t forget you need a premise to drive the outline so that you can create all the compelling literary elements, like characters, plot, and setting. The point is, there is a lot of craft under the hood, and here is just one discussion of the process of taking a book project forward starting with your premise.
Finding Your Pathway to Writing a Book
A parallel way is to talk to people who have taken the path before you. How did they get to the end and does any of it sound workable to you?
Best of all is just to get started but inform yourself at each step of how books are generally written. You be the judge of what’s useful to you or not.
Here is yet another 12-step breakdown of the process of starting and completing a book project. The good thing is that it’s compatible with pretty much any method that gives you more specific advice on how to structure your book. More information about each of the 24 subtopics covered is found in the linked articles. This ‘method’ stresses the idea of taking a path from great idea to ‘unity’. Achieving unity in art, or music, or writing is when there is a balance of cohesion and variation and the ‘whole’ is more than the sum of the parts. It all works together, from ‘big picture’ to ‘tiniest detail’.Here is yet another 12-step breakdown of the process of starting and completing a book project. The good thing is that it’s compatible with pretty much any method that gives you more specific advice on how to structure your book. Click To Tweet
Advice About Writing Your Book
This list was written specifically to organize my advice if people approach me. It’s not as much a recipe as a set of discussion topics to help define your best path ordered from start to finish. It can serve as the basis for a ‘self-interview’ or a discussion with others. You can use it to compare against your experience thus far. You can compare it to other ‘guidelines’ for writing a book. In the end, you’ll get a sense of where ‘the sky is the limit’ and where certain aspects of book writing, especially structure, is codified by reader expectations.
Most importantly, it is not a ‘recipe’ as much as the ground for establishing a process – one in which you become your own writing teacher. What matters is that you dive into the process with as much enthusiasm and knowledge as possible to help you achieve your goals.
1. It all starts with a Great Idea
2. Your next steps depend on you
3. If it’s for you, just get writing!
4. If your book is intended for public consumption, study up on craft and expectations.
5. Start and put in the time – you need these six things.
6. Find your voice
7. Once in sway, think hard about what to put in and what to keep out.
8. Your unique selling point is all the optional stuff you add.
9. Work to assess your strengths and weaknesses
10. Grow your written fluency.
12. What you are aiming for at every stage is Unity.
A Call to Action
Talking it out with a developmental book editor is also an option! If you’d like to ‘talk your story out’ to me, we’d discuss your ‘great idea’ in the context of this list and see how you best work towards achieving Unity in your project. More specific advice all depends on you and your project. You can contact me to organize such a ‘brainstorming interview’ at unityinwriting.com or email me at ‘unityinwriting (at) gmail (dot) com’.
Dawn Field is a scientist now writing her second book for Oxford University Press. She has published over 50 articles on writing because she is fascinated by what makes great writing, the writing process, learning how writers create, and how fiction impacts society. She loves reading book drafts at any stage of completion, brainstorming writing projects, and hearing about the diversity of writing experiences. Connect with her to collaborate, or converse, at UnityinWriting.com.
Published posts on Two Drops of Ink:
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
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