How To Write The Perfect Book

How To Write The Perfect Book

Warning: this article could make you unreasonably angry
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Here are some simple steps on how to write the absolutely perfect book:

1. You can’t.

2. Don’t even try to do that.

3. No, I said don’t.

4. Stop setting that goal for yourself.

5. Cut it out!


Here, let’s try a different technique. This article’s title is henceforth changed (yes, in mid-article):

"How to Write a Book in the First Place"

That’s better. By now I’m sure you’ve realized I'm not going to tell you how to write the perfect book, because no such thing exists. Anyone who thinks they can write the perfect book is not only a sad and misled individual, but more than likely a newbie to the writing world in general.

Think about it. You have a favorite book (recall it to memory). That book is not perfect. It may seem flawless to you as you read and re-read each sentence with the greatest care and attention to detail, but I can assure you—if the author didn’t think it was chock-full of nitpick-able errors and plot holes, then the critics do. Believe me, I took a class on literary criticism. The critics are out there.

In that regard, it is in your best interest to discard any notions that writing the perfect book is possible. It is not.

Now before you throw your hands in the air and give up on all your writerly dreams, sit back down. Remember the new title of this article is How to Write a Book At All.

Now that is entirely possible.

I believe everybody has a book in them—some have a dozen, and if you’re Stephen King, probably a good thousand—the hard part is actually doing it.

1. First, you need to write.

Ignore your grammatical errors. Ignore the internet. Ignore the entire world, if possible. And for goodness sake, ignore readers for as long as you can. This is your first draft (which I have heralded before). Get the words on the page. This is the most important step.

There! You have a first draft. But don’t stop there. I’m serious. Stopping at this stage kills almost as many books as never writing does. Read on.

2. Pretend it doesn't exist.

After you have vomited a good amount of literature onto some paper (or your word processor), put it away for a while. My personal don’t-read-it period is anywhere from two weeks to three months. (I can cut it to a week for short stories). Once you have sufficiently forgotten most of everything you spewed out, you are ready for step three:

3. Editing.

Some writers call this a myth. Those writers are wrong. You need to reread your book and fix all the mistakes you can root out. Be warned—this will be painful. You will cringe. You will slap your forehead. You will shake your fist at the sky and scream into the infinite abyss of space. This is natural. Also, the shaking of fists and screaming becomes more likely the longer you let a piece sit. Go back and read something you wrote in fifth grade and you’ll know what I mean.

4. First readers.

Once that’s done and you have finished lamenting at the universe, it’s time for your first readers. This is the time to let in those pesky people I told you to ignore earlier. They are valuable now—they have fresh eyes and fresh minds. Having never seen your manuscript before, they are the perfect guinea pigs to test your plot twists and jump-scares on. They will also root out most of the grammatical and plot errors.

Allow them to do their work and, in the words of my academic advisor, do not disclaim. Let the book speak for itself—if the readers gets confused or lost, you will know the story doesn’t stand on its own, and you can pick the readers' brains to find out how best to fix it.

As a side note: it really helps if your first readers are your friends. They tend to be nicer, so the shock of realizing your masterpiece is just a baby scribble is somewhat lessened.

5. Editing (round 2).

Once the first readers have had their go, edit the book again. I do not recommend waiting at this stage. Keep the readers’ comments fresh in your mind and make the changes that need to be made right away. Or at least take notes if you need a cool-down period (I know I often do).

* * *

This is where my pattern must break. From here, you may cycle back through the previous steps many, many times. Perhaps you decide to write an alternate ending and need more feedback. Perhaps you rewrite the draft entirely. Some writers navigate this loop for five, six or thirty-three drafts. The important thing is that they don’t give up. These writers understand that everything they do to the book makes it better, and every critical comment will only build its strength.

This is also where I must remind you:

You can’t write a perfect book!

Never forget this. Don’t let the criticism of your readers—or the rejection from publishers—bury you. There are a million reasons someone wouldn’t like a book, but there are another million reasons someone would. If you give up, if you decide that because you can’t reach perfection that it isn’t worth trying at all, then you have deprived not only yourself, but the entire world of a beautiful creation.

You can’t write a perfect book, but you can write your book, and no one in the universe has written one exactly like it. People out there will read it, and you will read it, and that will make you happier than attempting a perfect book ever would.

All that being said, it’s time to stop talking. I am going to go work on one of my books.

Are you?
Cover Image Credit: Stocksnap.io

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Escape Maybe The Scariest Option

Curiosity can quickly turn to terror.

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Where Angels Come In, part of the Before You Sleep story collection by Adam Nevill completely strikes you as a 'situation' based plot. An in your face supernatural Horror that leaves you wondering what the heck was happening. Lots of things go missing in the town, pets, kids, objects. The constant curiosity is lingering as to what is in the large White House on the hill and what it once was, or even is. Three young children make their way to the front gate. Two are drawn in, Pickering and the main character, overwhelmed with curiosity. But, curiosity quickly turns to terror as once they are on the first terrace, a ghoulishly pale and tattered cloth covered figure appears on the floor below them. Panic sets in as more of these strange creatures appear. Hiding, they make a choice to run for it. They run up to the next terrace as the creatures begin pursuit. Hearts pounding the make for the stairs at the end of the hallway and to a potential escape. More and more of the strange figures are revealing themselves out of every passing room. One is that of a little girl who begs them to hide in her room. Pickering kept running and descended the stairs while our main character ducked into the room. He could hear the horde of ghostly creatures pass by the room as the ghoulish little girl shows off her dolls. One can't help but think these so-called dolls, and stuffed animals may, in fact, be the decayed remains of the missing children and animals, though this isn't exactly confirmed by any means. One of the before seen ghost-like entities bursts into the room. The little ghost girl disappears. But before our main character could be discovered a shriek is heard off in the distance. Likely Pickering who has been caught. The creature runs out of the room as an open window is seen. Our main character makes a break for the window and works to pry it open further to escape, narrowly doing so as he is grabbed by a ghoulishly pale hand. Just barely breaking free and running away from the house.

This story is rich with something useful, but of what I am not sure yet. I feel I would have to read it a few more times to really understand all of it and pick up on any subtle hints that maybe presented throughout. The story happens very quickly, it is only three pages long, and you are just thrown into it. WHAM. BAM. You're there, and the story just goes. I feel there is some subtext to this tale, but it is extremely subtle. This adds to the mystery and intrigue of the overall plot. What's happening? What is all this? Who are these creatures like things? The story leaves you with more questions than answers.

Goodreads' fans give this story a 4 out of 5 stars; while Amazon also gives this story a 4 out of 5 stars. I myself would lean toward a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I still would recommend it as a pretty decent, quick, read that will leave you on edge with more questions.

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