How To Write A Book
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How To Write A Book

Hint: it's not easy

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How To Write A Book
sciencemag.org

Step 1: Pick your poison

Are you going to write with a pen and paper or on a computer? Both are fine, but I tend to gravitate more toward a laptop just because writing by hand slows me down. But if you're a faster writer than typist, you go for it. Whatever works best for you.

Step 2: Find the perfect setting

It's true. Most of the time spent "writing" will be spent researching facts for your story, checking Tumblr, or staring off into space waiting for inspiration to hit. However, it's still easier to focus on writing without the TV going or people trying to talk to you. Find a place conducive concentration for you. If that's the library then go there. If it's your lawn then sit there.

Step 3: Nix the lyrics

Maybe there's a certain song that really sets the mood for the scene you're writing. Great, but don't listen while you're writing. Music distracts, especially music with lyrics in a language that you can speak. It's hard to write when your brain is simultaneously processing lyrics. Listen to music without lyrics instead. It can evoke emotion without having pesky words to distract you. Or, if you have to make a deadline, listen to video game soundtracks. They're designed to motivate.

Step 4: Create characters

There are some really good sites out there to help writers create good characters. "Character checklists," they're called. They make sure you have everything you need to write a complete and dynamic character. But always remember that people are flawed and that the main character generally changes in some way over the course of the story. I read once that characters are like geodes; you have to break them to find out what they're really made of. Also, to help create good characters, write them in little scenes just to explore how they'd react. You know you've written a good character when their actions surprise even you sometimes!

Step 5: Plot time

Come up with a plot. Many writers do this differently. However, minimally, come up with a catalyst to launch your character(s) into the plot, a climax, and an ending. Endings are the most difficult to write so it's good to have at least a general idea of how you want to wrap things up before you bit off more than you can chew.

Step 6: Research

Do not guess on anything. there will always be people who know more than you, and when those people read your un-fact-checked book they will tear you apart. Talk to experts on the subject if need be. Sometimes authors tweak things or make up worlds for their stories, but don't make up how long it takes to sequence DNA or how many man hours it takes to build a cruise liner.

Step 7: Ideas come at inconvenient times

It's a fact. You're in the shower, and you have the most amazing idea. You're at work and are nowhere near a computer. You're walking down the sidewalk, late for work. Except for maybe in the shower, bring a notepad and a pen with you at all times. Jot down plot points or character sketches as soon as they come to you. I can't tell you how many times I've had a brilliant idea, figured I'd just remember it until I was back at a computer, then forgot the entire thing.

Step 8: You don't have to be inspired to write

Writing is not all about being wildly inspired and coming up with fantastic ideas on the spot. It takes a lot of hard work, and sometimes writing is just forcing words onto a page. You have the idea now you just have to get it out of your head. The one rule I follow, though, is that if you're bored with what you're writing then your readers will be, too.

Step 9: This is not the finished product

Don't get discouraged. This is the first draft. First drafts suck. The plot might not even make sense. That's okay. The only goal for this draft is to finish it. Tons of people say they want to write a book but then never do. Really, the first draft can be terrible, but as long as you finish then it's okay. It can be revised. Though editing isn't easy either, at least you can feel proud knowing that you're on your way to a finished product.

Step 10: Read

If you're stuck in the middle of the plot and don't know how to continue, read. If your writing feels dry and bland, read. If your characters aren't all that they can be but you don't know how to improve them, read. Writers are praised for having such unique ideas, but the reality is that we're thieves. See how that author worked through this problem? That gave you an idea for your plot. Like that author's writing style? Try and emulate it. Reading helps writers become better writers.

Step 11: Have fun

Writing is about having fun. It sounds cliché and cheesy, but if writing is more of a chore than a hobby then maybe it's time to scrap that idea and move on. Writing can be difficult and frustrating when you see someone else's finished masterpiece. It can be draining and exhausting and make you want to give up sometimes when you feel as though there's nothing to write about. But at some point there was a moment where ideas were flowing out of you onto the paper in beautiful harmony, and you were on top of the world. Remember that when you get discouraged because it's the moments like that that keep writers writing.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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