Nov 21, 2011

The 5 Simple Steps to Writing a Book

So, I am not the type of person who responds well to a long detailed laundry list on 'how to do something'. For instance: Last year my husband and I decided to make over my daughter's room. We found this really cool wall design that my daughter L-O-V-E-D (I mean with the two hands cupped like a heart and puppy dog eyes- loved)... Only the design came with a 5 page instruction manual. My head started shaking back and forth, and I was inching my way out of the room. I mean, how could anyone expect me to follow such an intricate plan and not mess it up.

My hubby smiled at me, and said, "It's okay. It really is only 5 steps."

1) Paint the background color
2) Snap the lines
3) Paint the accent color inside the lines
4) Outline in black
5) Paint dashes

He had condensed the entire manual down to steps that I could do. Sure it was still hard, but it was also manageable. Even I couldn't mess up 5 steps that badly.

When I finally decided to write my book, I have to tell you that I was under the extremely false impression that I would have an amazing dream that would come in the night. The next day I would sit down and pour it all out on paper... maybe even with a quill to make it even more romanticized. Then just for the heck of it, I would send it off to a publisher, wrapped in a brown paper cover. The publisher would love it, and I would instantly become rich and famous... or at least be able to send my kids off to college.

Umm, yeah! That didn't happen. So, I formulated a VERY basic 5 step plan.

1) Come up with a good idea. This may sound simple, but it is apparently not. It is a lot harder to think up something new than one might think. I came up with 3 or 4 very basic ideas... No storyline. No plot. Just ideas... And then I ran my ideas past a friend. Not one of those friends who support you in everything... the friend that will tell you if your butt looks fat in those jeans. Once they stop looking at you like you have sprouted a second head, then you know that you have a good idea.

2) Research your subject. Has it been written about before? Are there any ancient myths? Discover how you want your idea to be different than it ever has been in the past. All of the little details you find and like will help your story to become richer.

3) Write. Find a writing prompt on some obscure website (like mine) and apply it to your idea... Or find a song that inspires you... or a picture, or that weird kid that sits next to you in class and hums off key show tunes.

Don't worry about being amazing and getting every word right. That won't happen the first time through. The first draft is all about quantity over quality.

4) Write again. Yes, you will have to go back through your novel again (and probably, again and again)... to fill it out, to insert missing scenes, to provide the quality back into the quantity, and to make you passionate about your book. You will need to be passionate about it for the next step.

5) Publish it. Sounds easy, right? There are so many opinions on the subject. All I can say is that, if you can get an agent... do. If you can't, do what you have to do to share your book with the masses.

This step should come with a warning label. ***Brace yourself for rejection*** It happens, but that doesn't mean that you aren't amazing. You are, and someone will see it... but not everyone.

That about sums up the 5 step process. Sure you could break each step down, and add a dozen more. But for your sanity's sake, focus on these 5 simple steps.

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