Hey everyone! I’m back with more writing tips! Let’s get real; writing a book can – no, will – be hard, frustrating, time-consuming, but also the most rewarding thing you could do. It isn’t for everyone, but that’s what makes it such an art, just the same as drawing isn’t for everyone (because, believe me, I can write one heck of a chapter, but I still fail at drawing a simple straight line). Writing is a gift, and a very special one at that.
Yet, even if you are given the natural gift of writing, the struggle is real. But how do you go about writing a book, anyway? It’s a lot harder than it sounds, and there are no real answers to this question. However, there are a lot of tips out there that can help!
Read A Lot And Write A Lot
I’m sure that you’ve heard this advice from Stephen King before. Reading is something that is not optional if you want to write a book, but I’m sure that’s obvious. From the time I was seven I read everything I could get my hands on, and if I hadn’t started doing that, I know for sure that my writing wouldn’t be what it is today. Read everything; read books, and read a TON of them. I’ve read more fantasy and Sci-Fi novels than I can count, so that’s the genre that I write the most. The more you read, the more skill you gather. Now, practice makes perfect, so you must write a whole lot. I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and while I cringe at my childhood attempts to write elaborate stories, they were important to learning how to write. You can’t write a well written book if you don’t practice writing, just the same as a kid has to practice riding their bike without training wheels. Stephen King’s words are true!
Write For Yourself
Let’s face it; you can’t please everyone. No matter how good your book is, not everyone will love it. But guess what? That’s okay! When you start writing your book, you should write for yourself. Write to please yourself. What would you like to see? More importantly, don’t go into writing wanting to please everyone. If you do this, then you will start to struggle. You can’t please everyone, so write for yourself and see what happens!
Characters Are Everything…
I’ll say it again. CHARACTERS ARE EVERYTHING. Sure, there’s the plot, and the conflict, blah blah blah, but the characters are the most important part of the story. I have read book with terrible stories, but I only kept reading because of the good characters! No one wants to read about flat, boring characters, and that’s why you should spend a lot of time with them. Think about this; you created these characters, so they are your children. Treat them as such! Give them attention, work on them, make them 3D characters! Give them likes, dislikes and hobbies! Backstories are SUPER important here! I have a post coming out in the future about character development, so I’ll discuss this more then.
…But Make Sure The Plot Is Well Planned Out
What is the plot of your story? The plot is the course of events that is going to bring us from point A (the beginning of your story) to point B (the end). There needs to be conflict, hardships, crazy roller-coaster rides of emotion! You’ve made your characters, now it’s time to make them suffer! Throw everything you’ve got at them…just make sure that everything is very well placed. No one likes a book that makes zero sense. Think of your plot as a Jenga tower. You must build the tower and it must be stable so it does not fall over. Recently, I stumbled upon a HUGE plot whole in one of my fantasy novels I’ve been working on for the last year. I panicked, because let me tell you, that Jenga tower came tumbling down. Without fixing this problem, my book and everything I had worked so hard on would have gone down the drain. Luckily, I was able to pull it back up and fix it, but not without rewriting a large portion of the book. But hey, that’s what drafts are for! There are two types of writers, those who use outlines, and those of us, including myself, who are called pantsers. Panters don’t use outlines, so we are basically writing a story just using a few sentences of guidance and fragments of scenes in our minds. We like the excitement of figuring out what happens next just as much as our readers do! Still, we follow some sort of outline, or else everything would come crashing down eventually. Even if we have a good sense of what’s going to happen and when it will happen, more ideas can smack us in the face and ruin everything! But that okay, because this is only the first draft, second draft, third draft, or whatever draft you’re on. That’s one of the great things of writing a book; it’s ready whenever you’re ready. When you feel your plot is well planned out and stable enough, then you’re on the right track!
I love a good dialogue between characters. But you know what? It’s actually pretty hard to do. When I throw my characters together, it’s almost as if they are telling me what they want to say and then I write it down. Of course, they end up talking about whatever the heck they want, and I have to snap them back into line. Make sure that every conversation that takes place is meaningful to the story, because this is what’s moving your story along. And those pesky dialogue tags! What to use, what to use? I often see the term “said is dead”, however, I don’t believe that. Think about it; it’s rather distracting to have a diversity of dialogue tags in a single conversation, and in time, it might even give you a headache to see so many. Don’t be afraid to use “said”, but use it smart! Suppose two characters are talking together. You don’t have to use “said” every time, because the readers will begin to understand who’s talking pretty quickly. This is when different character voices become important. See this example;
“Oh, hey Sam!” Said Jason.
“Hey there, Jason,” said Sam.
“What are you up to today?”
“Oh, nothing much.”
See? We know by now which one is Jason and which one is Sam. Also, don’t you just admire my ability to come up with such interesting dialogue right one the spot? I’m totally kidding. I promise the dialogue in my books aren’t bad! Anyway, now you see that “said” is not dead. Said is very much alive, but only if the writers are smart with it!
Accept it…until it gets to much. It’s best to have actual readers read your first couple drafts, because it can get difficult when other writers read it. When other writers read your first drafts, you will, and I mean YOU WILL hear, “Well, if I wrote this, I would…” And it will get old. It will get old fast. Guess what? You didn’t write it. I did. It’s MY book. When you write your book, it’s your idea, your own two hands writing it, your own special mind thinking it up. No one else can tell you how to write it. The first person who says they would have done things differently needs to focus on their own stories, because that’s YOUR book they’re talking about. Of course, other writers are helpful too, especially if it’s someone who has published books before! In fact, my best friend is a (beginning, like me) writer, and we often share our first drafts. We give each other criticism, but in a kind way. Still, the best first draft tester is on real readers, because they will be able to stay out of the “writer brain”. My sisters are GREAT at criticism, and EXTREMELY helpful. I’ll get screenshots of my book with read lines and notes from my sister, and that’s what I like to get. Your book needs criticism, or else it will never make it. But your book needs healthy criticism, not “If I wrote this…”
You Will Get There Someday
You write and write and write and write and plot and work soooo hard. After what seems like forever passes, you’ve got yourself a book that you, YOU wrote. You’ve fantasized about this day, and it’s finally arrived! Guess what! You can get there! YOU CAN DO IT!! One thing that I struggle with is self-doubt. It can be so debilitating that it makes you stop writing altogether. I’ve been working hard at getting myself to realize that my writing is GREAT. My story is interesting, my story is worth writing. YOu have to keep believing this, and you will reach a point where you write the final word on your story. When you close your computer with your final draft complete. It’s a bittersweet, but exciting feeling. In fact, it very well may be one of the greatest feelings a writer could ever feel. And after all that hard work, you deserve it! Just keep at it, and you’ll see the day!
This is just the scratching the surface of how to write a book. There may be rules to writing, but sometimes those rules must be thrown out the window. And that’s okay! This is writing! It’s an art! There are multiple ways to do it, just as there are multiple ways for an artist to paint a waterfall. I hope you found this post helpful, and I can guarantee that you can look out for more Writing Tip posts! God bless, and happy writing!