Writing a book, overwhelming?

writing a book, write a book, how to write a bookI meet so many people who say they are thinking of writing a book. They don’t know where to start. Or where to finish. Or… it’s hard to know what to do. I always try to give them some advice (and I’m putting together an online course to help), but I see that look in their eyes – it’s daunting to think about, but like most projects, knowing the next few steps is all it takes.

Where to start writing a book

This isn’t the answer about where to start your story; it’s about what the first few steps are to that journey. The one that ends with the words The End.

I’m a plotter and so I think people need to start from a place of structure. If you are a fly by the seat of your pants author, the advice is just start writing. If you want a bit more structure when writing your book, and you haven’t been able to find a course that helps with the basics try my tips.

What not to worry about at the beginning

The more you write the easier it gets. Don’t worry about grammar, about repeating, themes, motifs, or even showing not telling at first. All of that is fixable in the revision stages. The first thing you need to do when writing a book, is get a draft on paper. You will have a hard time fixing the story while it’s still in your head. You will find it much easier when it’s on paper, or on screen.

First three steps

The first three steps in writing a book.

  1. who are your characters and what do they want? It’s important to know from the beginning what your hero (protagonist) wants that your villain (antagonist) won’t let them have.
  2. what’s the genre? Are you writing a mystery? a romance? a high fantasy? It’s important to know what genre because each one has conventions. You can mix the genres – lots of urban fantasies mysteries as well. You still need to work within the conventions of the genre.
  3. what’s your world? The setting of the story will change the story. If you set your story in New York, it will be very different than a story set in a small town in Montana.

Looking at these first three steps can help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed. Answering these three questions sets you up to actually put words on paper.

Good luck.