How to Write a Book in 2023
In 2023 you have many options and a lot of help to write your book. Here are some steps that will help you. Please take these steps as suggestions. It’s a road map to understanding the process of writing books today. There are many things to consider. I hope it helps.
Step 1: Brainstorm
If you are writing a book, you probably already know what it will be about, but brainstorming is still essential. If you need help brainstorming ideas, here are some suggestions.
- Check the news and change the endings of the news story. Get 10 exciting news stories. Read the story, and then change the end to something outrageous. This process is great for generating ideas.
- Writing prompts. Find writing prompts on the web. We have some here. Remember, you can change the prompt to whatever you want.
- Go places with lots of people, like hotel lobbies, train stations, bus stations, and parks. It helps a lot if you are not used to going into that environment. Listen into people’s conversations and imagine them in a story.
- Dreams are a great place to get ideas.
- Use the web for ideas.
Step 2: Prewriting
This step is much longer than it used to be. I’m going to make a list of essential prewriting questions, and then I’m going to answer them.
- What Point of view should I use in my story?
- Who will my audience be?
- Who will be the narrator?
- Why is the story important?
- Do I need world-building?
- Am I going to use storyboards or visual help?
Is Software cheating?
- Will I use software to help me organize?
- Will I use software to help me write it?
- Will I use software to help me edit?
What POV should I write?
Point of view is one of the most important questions you will ask yourself in prewriting. I once wrote about 100 pages and realized the story didn’t work in the POV I was writing it in. I had to start all over. Nothing will kill a project quicker than learning the POV does not work. So think it through. Do you want to know what one character is thinking? Remember to avoid head-hopping. Readers and publishers dislike bouncing from one person’s thoughts to another. It would be best if you asked whether this POV will work over and over in your prewriting.
Who will the audience be?
Some writers think this is a taboo question. It’s NOT. You don’t have to know people from august 25-48 who are female will love your work. You don’t have to know that, but you should know, are you writing to middle schoolers? Is this appropriate for 5th graders? What generation of people will understand what I am saying best? You are responsible in your craft, and knowing and respecting your reader is essential.
Who is the narrator?
Yes, even 3rd person omniscient narrators should be defined, at least in your head. You make the rules whatever you want in your writing, but you must follow them. As a writer rules, you don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules, but you have to have them, and you have to follow them, or the reader will walk away. So you need to know your voice.
Why is this story important?
Dumb question? Go ahead and spend months writing 300 pages and then realize the critical part of your character’s life takes place after this story. Every story needs a reason to be told, so know why this character comes of age; this character changes in this way; this is important in this character’s life because of what change? Make sure you have a good reason for writing the story.
Do you need world-building?
World-building these days is all the rage. If you are writing science fiction or fantasy, building the place where your characters will be living is essential. There are many tools for this online. Pinterest is one of the most loved for collecting photos of strange worlds and aliens on which you can base your settings and characters. You go out on the web, find incredible art and sketches, aliens and such, and then pin the pictures that most influence your imagination. You are not a thief. The idea is to use already created artwork to influence your creations. World-building can be a blast. Be careful not to stall here. Many creative writers get sidetracked and spend all their time creating their place and characters but never writing the story.
Is using software to write cheating?
We are all faced with this question. Hollywood has been using software to formulate their scripts for years, and there have been many arguments in writing communities about this issue. It’s becoming much more accepted. Software options range from giving you a little help to thoroughly organizing and formulating your story to now with Artificial Intelligence even writing parts of the work for you.
I’m not going to state my opinion here. Some writers love software, help other writers hate it and think it is cheating. It’s a personal choice. If you want to write a novel instructing AI or with a pen and paper on napkins, that is your choice. It’s your art, and you should do what you are comfortable with, but you should understand the opinions. It would be best if you also thought about this before you begin writing.
There are some fundamental and popular programs for Word Processing. These programs have basic grammar checks and spell checks. The 2 most popular, of course, is Word and Google Docs. I like google docs cus you can organize your work in very versatile ways, but it’s your choice. The most significant decision here is where you will have access to it. Both now offer online access, DO NOT use a local install of Word to write your novel. 1. You want to access it from anywhere, phone, computer, or tablet. You also want the online account to be your backup. If your computer burns up and holds the only copy of your 500-page novel, you may give up on writing. So make sure it’s a fluid online platform that brings life to your work.
Help with Outlining and organizing.
I will be writing another article about novel writing software sometime in the future, and I will link it. There are very versatile programs like Fictionary, Scrivener, and Atticus. These programs will create a skeleton of an outline for you at the push of a button. They will design character arches and set goals for your progress. The software also links your world-building reference pictures to your chapters. If you want pictures of all the people and places in the chapter, you connect them. They do much more than this, but they DO NOT write the novel for you. They help you with structure and organization. They are very well accepted among writers today.
Help with writing
We are at the dawn of a new world. Most writers say using AI is cheating, but this is your choice. Several software programs emerging right now can write your book for you. Everyone has heard of ChatGPT 3. You can’t use this in your book right now. Its writing is copyrighted, so don’t do that. But it does show us where things in writing are going. A couple of software programs right now you can buy and use are Jasper and CopyAI. Jasper is the most advance of the two, and it will write paragraphs and sections for you. It is less advanced than ChatGPT3, but it will create the copy. Before you start writing, ask yourself if you are ok with having a virtual assistant that will write for you.
Step 3: Outline for the planner
For you planners out there, you should lay out the draft of your novel in an outline form. It is going to save you a lot of time. You can do this on paper, but these days I recommend you use a chapter layout setting in Google docs. I recommend organizing software like Scrivener. The software works wonders at laying out novels, and it’s not very expensive.
Doing it yourself or organizing with software doesn’t matter; ensure you have a fleshed-out plan before you begin. You don’t have to know everything. No, you don’t have to know the ending; you need a good start. Flesh it out, then start writing. It will save you in the end.
Step 3: Outlining for the panderer
Oddly in my writing life, I’ve been both a panderer and a planner. Some people want to sit down and write. For a short story, that’s fine, but for a novel, at some point, you have to devise a plan and a way to organize and remember everything. I still recommend software, but if you are a purist, Write the first 2 chapters and start planning. It doesn’t have to be detailed. Just plan enough to know you will not have to double back on yourself. Everyone has their process. There is no right way, so whatever notes or napkins or whatever you want to do for reminders and support, do it.
Step 4: Writing
- Write every day. Writing a novel is hard. It takes a lot of work a persistence.
- Find a place to write where you feel comfortable, and that inspires you.
- Limit your exposure to things that may affect your writing. Whatever it is you have to do to write, do it.
- Set a celebration for the ending of your novel. When you finish, you will drink a bottle of champagne or go out to eat or have milkshakes, whatever you feel will motivate you.
- Set goals and stick to them. Have an everyday word goal, and have an every weekly word goal and stick to it!
- Set time for writing and make it a habit.
- Keep writing, and don’t stop.
A lot of people set out to write a novel and fail. They fail because they stop writing or don’t give themselves time. It’s hard to stay inspired for an extended time, so write like the devil to finish your work before your inspiration falters.
Step 5 Editing
Yes, this is part of writing your book. I include this because people think producing a book is about getting words on the page and finishing the story. The editing is just about as much work.
Edit as you go.
The first thing is you should edit as you go. Edit each chapter when you finish each section. Don’t just write and then expect to go back and edit. You need a clean copy of your novel to submit it. You will do much more editing if it is accepted for publication, but you want to show people and edit the book. Tips:
2. Use an editing software AI tool like Grammarly.
Ok, if you are a purist, you may bulk at this idea, and I didn’t like the idea of using a program like Grammarly, but it’s like a digital associate editor. It does make suggestions. You can ignore them. Using a digital assistant is a great help. It will catch mistakes that you do not.
3 Hirer, an editor
I understand that sometimes this is out of the price range of some writers. That’s ok, these are all suggestions, but I suggest you look for an editor. They may be cheaper than you think. Do not pay for content edits. You want a clean copy so that a copy editor will do. Do YOUR RESEARCH! Check with multiple editors to compare costs. People cheat writers every day. If you can find an editor you can afford, it will help.
4. Alpha and Beta readers.
Alpha readers are people who read your copy first. They give you feedback, reactions, and suggestions. Alpha readers, a great deal of help.
5. Beta readers
You may have heard of beta readers. There are communities of them on the web. Twitter houses a portion of them and Facebook. These readers will give you content feedback, which is essential. Did they understand the plot and characters? Are the themes clear? What could be changed to make the conflict better? Beta readers are like gold on the internet, and many people are willing to do it for free or trade. Seek them out.
So here are some steps and ideas for writing your first book. The steps and ideas apply to nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and whatever book you write. It is the first stage of bringing your writings to the masses. All of this is challenging. Many people give up before they finish. My advice does not to give up. Do not stop. If you fail the first time, try again. Keep going. Keep writing. Good luck.
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