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09/08/2019

How do you write a book?

QUESTION
How do you write a book?
I have a story I’m writing about a teen guy who’s dad doesn’t like the girl he’s dating so he runs away with her. I am having a hard time with the personality types and I don’t know how to put myself in the character’s shoes.. I don’t know the best structure to create a solid book; a solid story. ANY advice would help.
Thanks!

ANSWER
Hi. Here are some tips:

1) Write out a character synopsis with all the details of the character including basics (physical appearance, likes, dislikes, flaws, quirks, phobias, etc). Then make up a situation (or use a writing prompt), featuring that character and walk him/her through the situation. You’ll learn how they’d react if you kept their actions consistent to the character synopsis you created. Always ask yourself what they would do, think, say, etc and try not to interject your own beliefs/thoughts in there if it doesn’t match the character.

2) Look at it as you would a movie. Find actual pictures of people to help you visualize it. Visualizing it somehow makes it more “real” or easier to suspend my disbelief. If you can see these people, their facial expressions, mannerisms, so on…then you’ll better be able to put yourself in their shoes and write in their perspective.

3) Structuring of a book is like an essay or anything else. Beginning, middle, end. Sometimes beginnings include prologues (which I personally only use if the conflict truly began in the past but the actual story takes place years later), and the ending can include an epilogue. But instead of starting with the overall “thesis statement” or theme/conflict of the story, you can start with a small conflict first that forces the reader to ask questions. And then you can gradually bring up the real themes and conflicts after you developed your characters enough to give your readers a taste of who they are.

4) Read through a few books on the craft of writing novels. The actual “rules” are different for novel writing as opposed to essay writing or journalism. For instance, novel writing is more about showing than telling, unlike essays/articles.

5) Each chapter is a mini story arc with its own personal conflict that lends to the story’s overall conflict and theme(s). So give each chapter a beginning/middle/end and a conflict, rising action, and end it with more questions that lead into the next chapters.

6) Gradually solve some questions as you go but never solve the overall conflict until the climax/end of the story.

7) Try not to edit your writing as you go b/c you will stagnant your creativity and you’ll end up revising what you wrote later anyway (so you’re wasting time). Just write to get the gist of the idea down if you don’t plan (I free write often and then outline later). But I never edit while writing b/c I know how I am..I’d never finish if I edited before draft 1 was complete.

8) There are different structures or formulas for each type of book or genre. Mysteries aren’t written like romances and novels aren’t written like short stories. So again, learn the rules for each. Writers digest has a plethora of sources in their book shop to look over (you can find used and less expensive resources via ebay instead of buying them brand new at cover price via writers digest).

9) Don’t worry if our first draft is absolute rubbish either. You’re allowed to write poorly. It’s the end product that matters. So don’t feel discouraged if you read over it and don’t like what you see. It’s a skeleton of the finished product and was a necessary step in the process.

Hope this helped and sorry for the long-winded answer. Good luck 🙂