This post was most recently updated on December 24th, 2018
Practically anyone can learn how to start a book. In fact, we fully encourage you to pursue your life-long dream of being an author!
After all, everybody has a unique voice of their own and deserves a chance to share their story.
Well, what are you waiting for then? It’s time you get started.
How to Start a Book: A Step by Step Guide
Contrary to popular belief, getting a book published isn’t as challenging as the actual writing process. This is primarily because the internet has blessed the world with so many self-publishing opportunities. And anyway, that’s something you’ll have to worry about after you’ve finished writing the book.
Are you writing for the first time? Fret not, here’s everything you need to know about how to start a book:
Figure out What Your Book is About
What kind of book would you like to write about? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to write fiction or nonfiction?
- What genre are you interested in? Are you writing a self-help book or a thriller?
- Are there some people you can contact for help?
- Are you really passionate about what you want to write about?
- Is there a specific reason why you’re writing a book?
Once you’ve answered all these questions, you’ll find yourself a step closer to your ultimate goal. This little exercise will help you decide what you really want to write about. You can also choose to write a memoir or something work-related. Remember to pen down all your ideas in a journal.
Mind mapping is important and will act as a force of motivation or encouragement for when or if you’re faced with challenges in the future.
If you’re writing an instructional book or something that’s going to educate others, research is important. Fact-checking also becomes essential if your story is based on prehistoric times or is about a different country.
Before initiating the writing process, start researching first. We recommend you create a file and organize important information that you’ve collected. This could include anecdotes, facts, quotes and other reference materials that’ll come in handy later on.
Decide a Word Count
Now it’s time to get down to the specifics. Once you know what you’re going to write about, you’ll need to set a goal for yourself. After deciding the word count, figure out how to divide each chapter into equal lengths. You’ll also have to decide a daily and weekly target.
Hold yourself accountable or ask somebody to check up on you from time to time. A short eBook typically comprises of 20,000 words whereas a standard-length novel has about 60,000–80,000 words.
Business white papers and pamphlets are typically much shorter but you can always mix and match the lengths according to your personal preference.
Build Your Characters
This is perhaps the most exciting part of all. Your characters will serve as the soul and essence of your book so you ought to start mind mapping immediately. Perhaps you already have a character in mind or are planning to write about yourself. In this case, building your characters will become a tad easier.
If you’re creating a person from scratch, you’ll need to figure everything out about their life. What does he/she study? What are his/her secrets, hobbies, goals? These are just a few things that you’ll need to think about. An example of a brilliant character is Pip from Great Expectations or Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. A strong character acts nothing short of a friend and will stay with the reader until the very end.
Create an Outline
After you’ve thought about the main characters, start thinking about the outline of your book. You don’t have to stick to the same framework and can improvise as you write but at the same time, you’ll need to follow a specific pattern or structure.
Here’s what your outline should include:
- A brief description of what would happen in each chapter
- An overview of the primary conflict or struggle
- Must include an idea of how major events will transpire or unfold
Rest assured, you’re free to improvise any time during the writing process.
Achieve Your Writing Goals
Figure out a way to achieve your weekly writing goals. It’s important to celebrate progress and give yourself a pat on the back every step of the way. However, at the same time, be honest about how much work you’ve still left to do. This is one of the most crucial steps on your pursuit on how to start a book.
Possibly nothing could sting more than having to rewrite your masterpiece. Have a couple of trusted advisors/editors/experts read what you’ve written. It doesn’t even have to be a fellow writer or someone experienced, you can simply reach out to your friends and family.
Ask them all kinds of questions to ensure the book is headed towards the right direction. Just make sure that you’re receiving honest feedback.
Don’t Lose Hope!
We admire your goals of being a writer! So don’t lose hope and keep going! Consider joining a writing group to keep track of progress. This way, you’ll also receive guidance and support from people that have similar goals as yourself.
Wrapping it up
We hope will answer all your questions about how to start a book. If you’re an emerging author, what are some of your tips and tricks for writing a book? Tell us about it in the comment section below.