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Monday, November 9, 2015

How to Write a Book

The age old question every wannabe writer asks themselves - How do I write a book? 

How do I start? How many words will I write? What genre should I write? It's maddening when you think about it.

The best way to write a book is...well it's to start. Now, hold on don't go back to browsing Facebook just yet. It's true. You have to actually sit down and either plan or write 'Once upon a time...'

One of the comments I've heard the most in my writing process over the last three years is: I wish I could write a book, or I've always wanted to write a book. Uh, okay...why haven't you? That is my whole mentality of this process, not just writing books, but accomplishing something you've always wanted to do. I don't know what will come of my stories, I hope great things for them because I know I have a solid, unique story with incredible new worlds and characters. However, The Curse of Infinium, is still in the final "fill all the itty, bitty holes in the plot" stage. But I've done it, I've written a book--something I've personally always wanted to do.

What I've learned through this process is personal growth. Making time in my busy life to achieve a dream. Now, since I write that is what I'm focusing on in this post, but I like all sorts of friends so if you aren't a writer, and you just wanted to read this post...please pertain it to something you have always wished to accomplish in your life.

You want to write a book, let's get started. I've broken down my first five action items. These may change as your story progresses, but the point is to just get you started.

Action #1: Set aside 15-30 minutes the first day to really develop your protagonist, antagonist and other co-characters. Write their physical appearances, where they are from, how they speak, their core personality traits. In my wannabe opinion, you have to really know your characters. They have to be alive in your mind, if they are real to you (in a not creepy way) they WILL be real to your readers.

Action #2- On the next day take 15-30 minutes to really write out the character motivations. What are their goals? What drives them, what scares them? Every character must be motivated by something in a story, through every chapter, or they will fizzle and lose the reader.

Action #3- Put these characters in a setting. What does the world around them look like? What obstacles does the world around them create for their progression toward their goals? What is  unique about their world, is it dangerous, is it bright, is a New York subway station? Is it another dimension? What is the logic in the culture. You cannot create a world without a system that makes sense. Does that make sense?
In the Relic series, one of the four realms from the story, has no sun. Okay, if a world has no sun what does this mean for their animal life? What does it mean for the people? What does it mean for the plants? Well ,if there is no sun there is no photosynthesis (I'm no scientist, but plants need sunlight, right?) so I created an ecosystem of "moon-plants" dark colored leaves, plants that shrivel in extreme heat etc. The people as well are pale, they don't require Vitamin D to be healthy, and have eyes that cannot tolerate bright light. When they are visiting another area there are simple protective glasses they must wear to protect their sensitive eyes. These are just examples, but it's the little details that will help your story. I will be doing an entire post, or video series on world building/setting. There's a lot.

Action #4- Take the motivations of your characters from Action #2 and begin developing your plot line. How do these motivations develop into a story. What is at stake? That is VERY important. There must be high stakes or there will be no reason for a reader to continue on with your characters and their journeys. How will the differing motivations of each character conflict with one another. Marvelous stories have conflict: embrace it, accept it, write it. Now is the time to take out all your frustrations on your unsuspecting character creations and send them through the ringer in an exciting new story.

Action #5- Begin chapter outlines. Each chapter can be viewed upon as a short, simple story. There should be an opening, a conflict, and a climax conflict to keep the reader engaged. Don't have your character walk down the street the entire chapter, until he gets to another character's house. Have him walk down the street and trip into a pot hole, slicing his hand on a rusted bike rack, causing his hand to burn and bubble and seep an electric purple liquid, indicated he may not be from this planet. Or...if you're not into aliens, maybe he is on his way to his new girlfriend's house with a fragrant, bouquet, but suddenly he sees her--his first love, but how can that be? She died two years earlier.
You get the idea. Use your developed motivations, and you should know your characters and their personalities by now to know how they will react in each chapter situation you throw at them.

Voila! You've begun to write your novel. I wish I could say you will bop out a perfect draft in no time...but that wouldn't be true. You may be awesome and be able to create a fairly clean, near perfect first draft. I'm not that awesome and my book has changed so much plot wise from my original idea I don't even recognize my first chapters from years ago. However, motivations, histories, and my character's personalities haven't changed much. They have stayed constant and that has helped me during the head-banging-against-the-keyboard-writing-sessions

to at least work through problems because I know how they would react.

Bottom line, get an old fashioned pen and paper and start writing histories, get to know your setting, plot and characters. Write out logistics and when you actually start typing you will be amazed how it begins to mold together!

Happy Writing Wannabes!

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