So you think you want to write a book? A fiction book?
Well, you might have come to the right place. Might. I’m still not sure about that.
Anywho, fiction writing is something I’ve been doing since I could pick up a pencil. I have all these wonderful voices in my head just waiting for their story to be told because all writers should have minor multiple personality disorder. Some of them are loud and boisterous, their story flowing like water over paper, while others are more timid and only give you snapshots to work with. Remember, I said you might have come to the right place.
I thought I would share with you the things that I’ve learned through trial and error, workshops, and my short stint as a Creative Writing major. Don’t judge me, I was convinced I’d learn more driving across the country for love. And I did.
Stage One, Concept: Before you write anything you need an idea. This usually comes in the form of character for me because I like to write character driven plots. I’ll take some time to learn about my character. Finding out what they want the most stars the path for plotting. Figuring out what will hurt them the most creates conflict.
If that isn’t your cup of tea you can always start with a premise. This has a much wider scope, allowing for more character POVs and usually begins with a theme. Your premise could be love in the time of war or aliens invade earth.
Stage Two, A Really Rough Outline: This will not be the same as what you come out with in the end. I can almost guarantee that. Still, writing down the plot points that you know will happen and filling in the spaces in between helps drive writing later when you’re floundering for ideas. Some of you might be Architects and want to plan out every square inch of your novel. That’s okay. Others could be gardeners, like myself, and only need a few lines.
A cool tool is Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. His theory states that all stories follow the same plot. His break down of that base plot makes for a great fill-in-the-blank outline that I’ve used before. Still, try to create a some kind of outline to keep on hand.
(Stage 2.5 involve dropping the dough for Scrivener. It is a really great writing tool along the lines of Microsoft word, but way better. I got mine for fifty percent off by winning my Nanowrimo.)
Stage Three, Write: You can’t get around this. Nope. Not at all. Nanowrimo taught me that I can write 50,000 words in a month. If I can, you can, too. If you find yourself trying to get around this you can set up a reward system. Go out and get yourself a cheap calendar and a cute set of stickers. Each day you make your word goal you get a sticker. Double that and you get two stickers. It’s cute and you can even top it off with a larger reward at the end month like Starbucks (I prefer Dunkin Donuts because duh).
Do whatever you need to, just write. And don’t worry, it will be crap. Sorry.
Stage Four, Edit/Revise: This is my little black hole of time. I spent years revising my first novel and I’m really hoping that it doesn’t happen this time around. A method that I love is printing out that shitty first draft. Get yourself a good binder, a pen in your favorite color, and maybe even some sticky notes. You can do a read through away from your screen and write changes directly onto the draft so that later you can do a side by side revision.
Stage Five, Publishing: Once you’re sure that what you have is ready to see the world, a scary time for all novel parents, you need to decide how you’d like to publish. There are a crap ton of methods these days thanks to the world wide web. If you just want people to read you can check out Wattpad. If you want to skip rejection letters you can self-publish, something Amazon has made insanely easy. Or, you can try the traditional method, starting with an Agent Query. Literary Agents know the publishing world and are there to get you the best contract. You just got to sell them on your book first.
I plan on self-publishing my very first novel with Amazon/Createspace. It’s kind of expensive if you include the cost of cover art (we found an artist on DeviantArt), professional editors, and formatting. My hope is to push for traditional publishing for my YA books.
Stage Six, Platform: Sure, your stuff is out there, but unless you have a big box name doing your marketing no will know it’s there. Readers want to find you, to interact with you. The best way of doing that is to utilize the internet to it’s fullest. Start a blog. Create social media accounts. Host book giveaways. Get on Twitch. Offer free copies of your book to people that your audience would see. Offer free books to book reviewers.
This is how I go about writing novels. To date I’ve written three and a half, spending too many years of my life only revising one of those. I’m currently working on a YA novel that I’m really excited about. I hope you can take something away from this to help you understand the process better. Next time I’ll get more into the art of writing.