How does one start writing a book?

Writing a book is only half of the work. A lot of authors even believe that most of the work starts after the first draft. I am among those authors. See, once I have written my story, (after pleading to my characters, arguing with them, smiling with them etc), I send my manuscript to my editor. She then “shreds” my baby. Aaargh, the horror! The heinous act! Of course, that’s her job. My editor has a critical eye that is absolutely necessary since after writing a book, and having it read a dozen time, I just can’t really “see” the story anymore. I’m simply oblivious to anything in it that doesn’t add up. Also, I believe every single one of my stories became better from the editing process.

I will write another set of posts about editing, but this post is about how to start writing a book.

  • Obviously, you need a story that you want to tell. Something you are passionate about. For example, I like to write stories with elements of mythology in them. To me a story starts with a simple plot, then the characters come to my mind and I go from there. I start making notes on my phone. At night, after working hours, I start writing. Most of the time the story takes me to places and plot lines I hadn’t thought about to begin with, but that’s half the fun. 
  • What software to use? In the early days, I used Word, but I have switched over to Scrivener and I highly recommend it. Adding scenes is what comes next to me. Scenes and dialogues. I add a # mark to scenes in my notes. I have a different folder in Scrivener about notes and dialogues. I usually know the beginning, and also immediately the ending of my story. All that’s left is the in between (yeah, it’s handy to have a lined out plot, and I usually do, but sometimes I just write where the story takes me. Do whatever fits you best).
  • Character sheets are also something I recommend. It is a great way to connect with the characters, make them come alive, so they don’t seem flat and boring. Because readers are critical and you need to give them credit; they don’t like superficial characters. Who does?
  • And then the hardest part… keep writing. Crush your daily word count. I wish I could say I’m a very productive writer, but I know I can do so much better. I write mostly on my days off and the weekend. But come November I plan to be more productive. Be less critical of my first draft and keep on writing. Because as a famous writer once said: “you can’t edit a blank page.” 


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