NaNoWriMo Adventures in Career Changing chapter length - how do I write a book?

How Do I Write a Book?

So, how do I write a book?

Aspiring authors ask this all the time. While there are any number of people who simply work off inspiration, there are others who are filled with doubt. They ask: how do I write a book?

Well, I’m here to tell you.

How Do I Write a Book and Get Started?

You should start with short stories. Seriously. Much lower stakes. And write lots and lots and lots of them. Funny, sappy, scary, sad — it doesn’t matter. Fanfic is totally cool; so is nonfiction. However the spirit moves you.

Write about 1500 – 2000 words per day if you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day here and there or you miss word count. No biggie. Stuff happens. This is also how to win NaNoWriMo, an activity I highly recommend.

Do this for at least a year.

What Happens Once that Year is Up?

At the end of the year, if you’ve written 2000 words per day, you’ll have written 730,000 words. The vast, vast majority of them will be garbage. This is nothing personal. It is life.

Usually you need to write a good million words or so before things start to get good. By this point, you’ll be nearly 3/4 of the way there.

Time to Review

Then look back, particularly on your older stuff, and you will see how you’ve improved. You will also see how some of your work could be expanded. Maybe it could get a sequel or a prequel. Maybe you need to describe a character better. Whatever.

Edit and Expand

Do that expanding. Of course this also counts toward your million words. A million isn’t some magical number; it’s more that it’s easy to remember. And it tends to show quality because by the time you’ve written that much, you’ve gotten the garbage out of your system.

Get Inspiration

Observe the world around you. Family. Friends. Work. School. The people on the bus. Nature. Traffic. Etc. etc. etc. Write down what inspires or interests you, even if it’s just a phrase someone utters or the scarf they’re wearing. Use those observations as fodder for more of those short stories (yes, you should still be writing short stuff).

Keep Going

Another 6 months or so and yeah, you’ve hit a million written words. Again, look at what you wrote. See if you can change it, combine it, expand it, and otherwise mutate it.

How Do I Write a Book? Now’s the Time to Start Converting Your Short Scribbles into a Book

If you like organization (I personally do), then write an outline for what you think might be a decent book. Steal from your short stories for that book. They are a bank. You have made thousands of deposits. Now it’s time to make some withdrawals.

Tie it together with transitions. You really just care about characters –> conflict –> crisis (also called the climax) –> change. The scene is a particular species of character.

Get to at least 75,000 words. Send it to beta readers and listen to what they have to say (but keep in mind, they may be wrong). Edit it until it bleeds.

Reread it as if you were a fan, not the writer. Fill the plot holes. Sew up the loose ends. Edit again.

And voila, you’ve got a book.

How Do I Write a Book and Have it Go Anywhere?

So that’s the answer to ‘how do I write a book?’ For the answer to how do I get it published, read on.

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