How To Write A Book: 20 Tips from World-Class Authors1:24 AM
Become a good novel writer is not easy task. In this article we will cover everything you need to k...
2. “I don’t think there’s a difference between writing for a newspaper or magazine and doing a chapter in a book.” ~ Rick Bragg
3. “When one starts writing a book, especially a novel, even the humblest person in the world hopes to become Homer.” ~ Umberto Eco
4. “A good writer cannot avoid having social consciousness. I don’t mean this about small pieces of writing, but about a big book. If it’s a big book, there has to be more than one undertow.” ~ Marguerite Young
5. “I labored for eight years thinking that I was writing a book for adults that was a nostalgic look back on childhood. Then my publisher informed me I’d written a children’s book.” ~ Jeff Kinney
6. “Whenever you’re writing a book or creating a movie or a game, your first task is to get the reader to suspend disbelief, to buy into the logic and boundaries of your world, even though those boundaries might include things like dragons and magic.” ~ R.A. Salvatore
7. “When I’m writing a book, sentence by sentence, I’m not thinking theoretically. I’m just trying to work out the story from inside the characters I’ve got.” ~ Salman Rushdie
8. “The story drove the book. That had a very seminal effect on the way I saw writing and storytelling. If you can set a character in a story that is compelling and has a backbone, you draw people in.” ~ Dick Wolf
9. “One of the things I had to learn as a writer was to trust the act of writing. To put myself in the position of writing to find out what I was writing. I did that with ‘World’s Fair’ as with all of them. The inventions of the book come as discoveries.” ~ E.L. Doctorow
10. “To have a successful writing career you must be willing to sacrifice a great deal. The book, the deadline come first before anything else. Writing is not a job; it is a lifestyle, and it is a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. You need self-confidence and an iron carapace.” ~ Virginia Henley
11. “It takes me three months of research and nine months of work to produce a book. When I start writing, I do two pages a day; if I’m gonna do 320, that’s 160 days.” ~ Alan Furst
12. “Follow your instincts. Do the kind of writing you love to do and do best. ‘Stiff’ was an oddball book—I mean, a funny book about cadavers?—and I worried that it would be too unconventional. In the end, that’s what has made it a success, I think.” ~ Mary Roach
13. “It’s just a matter of writing the kind of book I enjoy reading. Something better be happening at the beginning, and then on every page after, or I get irritated.” ~ Jonathan Franzen
14. “It’s important, I think, for a writer of fiction to maintain an awareness of the pace and shape of the book as he’s writing it. That is, he should be making an object, not chattering.” ~ Thomas Perry
15. “The characters are always the focal point of a book for me, whether I’m writing or reading. I may enjoy a book that has an intriguing mystery or a good plot, but to become one of my real favorites, it has to have great characters.” ~ Candace Camp
16. “Everybody’s idea of a great book is different, of course. For me it’s one that makes my jaw drop on every page, the writing is so original.” ~ Carl Hiaasen
17. “When I’m writing a book I prefer not to speak about it, because only when the book is finished can I try to understand what I’ve really done and to compare my intentions with the result.” ~ Italo Calvino
8. “I feel like writing a book there’s a version in your head that’s an amazing version, but then you write the version that you can write.” ~ Karen Thompson Walker
19. “My favorite part of writing a book is thinking up the ideas, and that can start a long time before I actually sit down at my desk.” ~ Anthony Horowitz
20. “I wrote ‘Sophie’s World’ in three months, but I was only writing and sleeping. I work for 14 hours a day when I’m working on a book.” ~ Jostein Gaarder
- Start small. 300 words per day is plenty. John Grisham began his writing career as a lawyer. He got up early every morning and wrote one page. You can do the same.
- Have an outline. Write up a table of contents to guide you. Then break up each chapter into a few sections. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Anything more complicated will get you lost. If you need help, read Do the Work by Steven Pressfield.
- Have a set time to work on your book every day. If you want to take a day or two off per week, schedule that as time off. Don’t just let the deadline pass. And don’t let yourself off the hook.
- Choose a unique place to write. This needs to be different from where you do other activities. The idea is to make this a special space so that when you enter it, you’re ready to work on your project.
- Have a set word count. Think in terms of 10-thousand work increments and break each chapter into roughly equal lengths:
» 10,000 words: a pamphlet
» 20,000 words: short eBook or print book
» 40,000–50,000 words: good-sized nonfiction book
» 60,000–70,000 words: longer nonfiction book
» 80,000 words–100,000 words: typical novel length
- Give yourself weekly deadlines. It can be a word count, percentage of progress, whatever. Just have something to aim for, and someone who will hold you accountable.
- Get early feedback. Nothing stings worse than writing a book and then having to rewrite it, because you didn’t let anyone look at it. Have a few trusted advisers to help you discern what’s worth writing.
- Ship. No matter what, finish the book. Send it to the publisher, release it on Amazon, do whatever you need to do to get it in front of people. Just don’t put it in your drawer.
- Embrace failure. Know that this will be hard and you will mess up. Be okay with it. Give yourself grace. That’s what will sustain you, not your high standards of perfection.
- Write another. Most authors are embarrassed of their first book. But without that first, they never would have learned the lessons they did. So put your work out there, fail early, and try again. This is the only way you get good. You practice.
You can do it, too.
You’re sure to have found some nuggets of gold on how to write a book.
Good luck on your journey!
What advice would you give to someone who asked you how to write a book?
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