The only just literary critic is Christ, who admires more than does any man, the gifts He Himself has bestowed. – JRR Tolkien

*Disclosure – this site contains sponsored links – please see our Disclosure Page for more info!

How to Write a Book – Tips & Ideas

What's the Best Way to Write a Book?

What is the Best Way to Write a Book? Here's How to Write the Best Way for You

There are as many answers to that questions as there are authors. And while no answer is inherently better than another, a few examples should serve to set the aspiring writer on a successful course to completing his or her first book.

Obviously the answer also depends on what type of book you want to write.

If you’re writing non-fiction, you’ll want to research your topic, then write an outline.

But lets say you want to write a novel. One method is to begin by posing a narrative question, a question you are unable to answer. You’re attempting to find out something no one knows.

Pose that question early, within the first few pages. Then compel the reader to find out the answer to that question.

  • Will Jane Doe marry the man of her dreams?
  • Will Detective Winslow bring down the evil serial killer.
  • Will the struggling waitress get a million-dollar recording contract?
  • Will the bumbling bank robber get away with his million dollar booty?

From there, let’s assume you’ve already decided what type of narrative voice you wish to use.

The writer can, if he so chooses, simply wing it. Several well-known authors are said to utilize this method as a starting point for their novels.

You take a character – your protagonist – and place him or her in a seemingly insurmountable situation. Place them in the middle of a winding maze, and from there, see if your imagination, in conjunction with your pen, typewriter, or word processor, can lead them on a successful (or not) journey out of that proverbial maze.

The pitfalls of such a method are obvious.

Endless opportunities for long digressions to nowhere. Finding yourself stuck, when you’re unable to find a way out for your character.

When you’re writing by the seat of your pants, it’s easy to write yourself into a corner.

One solution?

As soon as you’ve written your beginning A proceed directly to your ending Z. From there it’s simply a matter of how to proceed from A to Z.

Another, more thoughtful, and less haphazard method, is to first outline your plot. Create a structure – a scaffold, if you will, on which to hang your story. The most basic story outline consists of a beginning, a middle, and an ending.

Or I, a II, and a III.

Within that basic framework, you might write thirty chapters for each section.

You might consider buying a 100 page composition notebook, and writing a chapter outline for each page.

At the end of your beginning and middle, be sure and construct a tangible shift, or turning point in your plot, which seamlessly carries your characters into the next phase of the story, and compels your readers to come along for the journey.

The most important thing to remember when writing a basic outline, is that this outline is primarily for the purpose of writing your first draft.

Once the work of writing the first draft is out of the way, now comes the fun part, the re-writing, or revision.

How to Write a Book - You Can Write a Book - Follow Easy Tips and Ideas for How to Write Your Story

Once the work of writing the first draft is out of the way, now comes the fun part, the re-writing, or revision. It is often said that writing is rewriting. It’s true, revision can often consist of minor tweaking. But look at revision as your golden opportunity to re-imagine your characters, to provide depth to your protagonist and antagonist, to color your scenes, to add humor, and above all heart and soul to your story.

Revision is your chance – as the creator of your work – to throw all kinds of delicious new obstacles in your characters way. In the beginning of your first draft, and within the first few pages, you should have made it abundantly clear what your character wants.

And he or she must want something.

Even if it’s a glass of water. –Kurt Vonnegut.

If your characters have everything they need or want, then you have no story.
Your job as a writer is to

  1. explain why your character wants the object of their desire – the prime motivator
  2. to place a huge, deep chasm – or many small hurdles – between your character and that object.

Here, pay careful attention to your characters. Enter into them. Listen to them, trust them, and learn what it is they’re trying to teach you. Make your characters do unpredictable things. Insert plot twists and surprises.

Revision is where you get to add the details. And in writing fiction, details are everything.

Lastly, decide what is the point of your story.

I hesitate to use the words, moral or theme. Nowadays these are loaded terms. But every good story has one.

Whether it’s purpose, meaning, gist, or moral, there should be one. It’s what makes a story more than just the sum of it’s parts; more than simply a series of events.

It’s that deeper, primal, but unstated, urge that pulls the reader along and makes them identify with the characters, and keeps them turning the pages.

Often it’s simply an aspiration for justice – a justice often denied in the real world. A longing for right and good to triumph over wrong and evil.

Whatever you choose to call it, if you want your story to succeed on a deeper level, it must have one.

Join our Facebook group, subscribe to our Youtube channel, or follow on Twitter, for all the information you need – free – ask any questions you may have and send books for review.