Basics of Book Writing
All good books begin with an idea. The problem is that many authors, even if they can come up with a great idea, often fail to follow through. The key to all successful book writing is not the idea itself but rather having a plan for taking it from inception to completion. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction there are at least three main ingredients involved in any book-writing process: 1) The Idea; 2) The Plan; 3) The Execution. The following information explores these three elements and provides helpful tips about how to implement them into your own workflow process.
“To be interesting, you must be interested.” – Zooey Deschanel (actress/songwriter)
The idea starts with an idea, but it is much more than just an idea. The best ideas are those which have the capacity to attract attention and motivate action. The best ideas are simple, yet unique or novel in concept. The best ideas are ones that can be easily communicated to others by describing them through a single sentence or two. The best ideas create curiosity and intrigue from their mysterious depths of meaning. The inspiration for a book idea may come from anywhere: another modern-day myth, popular culture & media, real-life experiences or events experienced first-hand, etc. In order to truly capitalize on any “great” book idea, you must clearly define what makes the concept so interesting and differentiating from all other similar works being produced or in development. The best way to accomplish this is by creating a one-paragraph “elevator pitch” which can be used to sell your book idea to others, most importantly agents and publishers seeking new talent.
The Elevator Pitch
The main purpose of the elevator pitch is to concisely communicate the unique concept behind the book in a way that captures the attention of interested parties and encourages them to find out more. The elevator pitch takes an idea and boils it down into its absolute essence, the most important aspects, components, or characteristics about it in a few sentences or less. The perfect elevator pitch should capture the interest of enough people in a short enough amount of time with enough information included so as to not leave any unanswered questions when compared against other similar concepts.
The Elevator Pitch Formula
The ideal book idea elevator pitch formula is to address each of the following components with one or two sentences that best describe them:
- What is the main character(s) all about?
- Where are they now?
- Where have they been & what has happened to them up until this point in the story?
- Where do they need to go next and why should I care about them getting there?
The nature of your plot can be described as either linear or non-linear, simple or complex. A linear plot simply means that it follows a clear path from the beginning, through middle events to an end where everything is resolved by some sort of climax. A non-linear plot might contain several separate smaller plots which all connect at the conclusion of the story. The non-linear plot can be broken down into three main subcategories: The Contrasting Plot contains two stories that are somehow connected or related to each other. The stories tend to overlap and compete for attention as they progress throughout the book.
The Parallel Plot
The parallel plot is a more traditional form of storytelling where events occur sequentially, one after another with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The goal is to tell a complete story that can stand on its own merit outside of any larger context or background information provided by previous books in the series.
The Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
The jigsaw puzzle plot offers a blueprint for creating individual pieces out of smaller components all originating from one significant event at the center of the story. The pieces are then rearranged and put back together in a new order that tells a different story than what was originally intended.
The Purpose of the Book
The purpose of your book is to entertain, educate or inform your audience on a specific topic or subject matter. The genre will help to further define and clarify the overall tone and approach you should take when writing the book.
The genre of your book can be any number of things including but not limited to: romance, mystery, suspense, comedy, horror, biography/memoir, etc. The most important thing is to make sure that your chosen genre is appropriate for the main characters, plot, and theme of your story.
The tone of your book can be either light and humorous or dark and serious. The tone will be set by the overall mood of your story and how you want your readers to feel when they finish it.
The style of your book is how you choose to tell your story. Some writers prefer to use a more traditional approach while others experiment with different techniques and styles throughout the course of the story.
The format of your book can be in either print or digital form. The type of book you write will determine the necessary components for completing the project successfully. The following are a few main types of books that are commonly written:
The non-fiction book is based on factual information that has been researched and verified. The author presents their findings in a clear and concise manner, making sure to stick to the facts only. The purpose of a non-fiction book is to inform or educate the reader on a specific topic. The most common formats for non-fiction books are print and digital.
The fiction book is based on a story that has been created by the author, using their own imagination as the source of inspiration. The characters, plot, and setting are all fictional and do not represent any real-life people or events. The purpose of a fiction book is to entertain the reader with a good story. The most common formats for fiction books are print and digital.
The children’s book is written specifically for young readers, typically between the ages of 2-12. The language and overall tone of the book should be very straightforward and easy to understand. The length and word count varies depending on the reading level of the intended audience. The most common formats for children’s books are print and digital.
Young Adult Books
The young adult book is targeted at readers in their teens and early twenties. The language, length, and overall tone are slightly more mature than a comparable children’s book but still written with the younger reader in mind. The content itself tends to explore social issues or address difficult subject matter that would otherwise be inappropriate for younger audiences. The most common formats for young adults books are print and digital.
The “For Dummies” series offers informational guides on almost any topic imaginable including history, fitness, cooking, technology, etc. The books in this series are typically written in plain and simple language, making them easy for anyone to understand. The most common formats for the “For Dummies” series are print and digital.
The Book Writing Process
The book writing process can be broken down into four main stages: pre-writing, writing, editing, and publishing. The following is a more detailed description of each stage:
The Pre-Writing Stage
The pre-writing stage is when you do all of your preliminary work including creating an outline of your story, developing your characters, and drafting the initial chapters. This stage can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on how prepared you are when you start writing.
The Writing Stage
The writing stage is when you sit down and actually write the story. The amount of time this takes will vary depending on your writing speed and the length of your book. Most books can be completed in a few months, though it is not unusual for writers to take a year or more to finish a novel.
The Editing Stage
The editing stage is when you go through your manuscript and make all the necessary changes and corrections. This includes rewriting chapters, fixing spelling mistakes, grammar errors, etc.
The Publishing Stage
The publishing stage is when you format your book for print or digital distribution and submit it to various publishers or self-publish it yourself. The amount of time this stage takes depends on how quickly you can make the necessary changes and whether or not you need to hire an editor. The entire book writing process can take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the scope and complexity of your project.
In conclusion, there are a few key things to keep in mind when writing a book. The most important thing is to stay focused and stick to your outline, ensuring that all the necessary details are accounted for. The book writing process can be challenging but it’s also very rewarding once your book is published and available for everyone to read.