How to Write A Book


Focus.

That’s all it takes.

Focus on writing everyday, no excuses because even five minutes of active writing will increase the word count of a book. This may require rising before the sun, or burning the midnight oil, but if that’s what it takes to get hands on the keyboard or pencil/pen to paper, then commit to it. If it’s too difficult to get in touch with the muse early in the morning or late at night, sketch out the scene (or tell) what’s supposed to happen and use it as a guideline to flesh it out (or show) as much as possible during a lunch break, during the train/taxi ride home, or whenever time is available. If it’s a too busy family life that interrupts writing time, create a writing schedule, bargain if necessary so that each partner gets equal free time, even if it’s only half an hour.

Photo by Frank Selmo (frankselmo on Flickr)

When that free time is available, whether or not the muse is talking, make sure each scene has focus. These are the things I aim to include into each scene:

  • Conflict. Gotta have it, otherwise why are people reading the book. The main character (MC) has to have a goal from the very first page. Something is bound to stand in the way. I invite Murphy’s Law to stomp all over my characters life. I love when I’m reading a book and the MC gets backed into a corner from which I can see no way out, yet I know they get out cause there’s still 72 more pages left. In each scene, I focusย on making my MC work toward her goal, ensuring the things she need don’t happen to fall into her lap, and amping up the conflict.
  • Character. In order for readers to care about said MC getting out the corner, they need to care about said character(s). I try to fall into my characters. Instead of observing the scene unfold as if watching it on the big screen, I imagine myself in the scene and employ all the senses to make the characters’ reaction to the setting real. I focus on staying in the MC’s POV throughout the scene, and if the POV changes, I add an extra space and stay in the other character’s POV for the remainder of the chapter. Continuous head hopping can be disconcerting.
  • Setting. Have a clear understanding of when and where the story takes place, but don’t try to include everything. Focusย on a few select things which breathe life into the setting. There’s always time to build in more elements of the environment in the next scene.

Focus on the endgame. Figure out the common word expectations for the genre/target audience because it’ll be hard to sell a low word count sci-fi novel or a high word count realistic middle grade novel.

Last, focus on having fun and enjoying your characters and the world you’ve built for them.

What do you focus on when writing? What elements do you try to work into your scenes? How do you find time to write?

For a humorous take on How Not To Write A Novel, check out my crit partner’s post here.

Related Articles
Make Your Writing Time Matter
Novel Word Count
Genre Novels – Word Counts Rules, Subgenres, and Guidelines for Getting Your Book Published
Wordcount Dracula

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8 comments on “How to Write A Book

  1. Excellent post! I’m tweeting this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Ah, you make it sound so simple! Maybe focus is the key. I usually have basic character and setting OK, but plot eludes me – mine tend to start… and then fizzle because I’m not sure where I’m going. If you have rules for how to get through that, please share! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Plot is a tough monster to tackle. My crit partner Dawn Allen @ Write On interviewed Les Edgerton about his book Hooked. In it, I think you might find one possible solution to your problem. It might be the difference between a story worthy problem and a surface problem. Find Dawn’s post here: http://dawnall.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/hooking-your-reader/

      Also, I find it helpful to know my MC’s goal before I start writing. Then, I focus on one scene at a time working her toward that goal, while overcoming conflict/obstacles in her way.

  3. Good advice, thanks. I’m focusing on keeping things going as I pants my way through Camp Nanowrimo, lately! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. […] How to Write A Book (writesbymoonlight.wordpress.com) […]

  5. […] How to Write A Book (writesbymoonlight.wordpress.com) […]

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