1. Get a story idea
Everyone gets their story ideas from different places, all it takes is a little inspiration to spark an idea and from there it takes off. I usually get my ideas from music, situations, or even stories I hear from other people (in this case, one small scenario causes my brain to come up with something completely different based on one small detail).
2. Brainstorm the basic plot and characters
For a book to be good, you need to have an engaging plot to keep readers turning the pages as well as believable characters. Readers need to be able to relate to the main characters as well as hate the antagonists.
3. Research (if needed).
This includes finding the perfect names for your characters, where they live, the surroundings, their world (especially if it’s fantasy), historical references, etc. This part is important if you want the world you are creating to be believable.
4. Make your characters come to life
Making copious notes on your characters from simple things to their characteristics like personality, looks, and other background information that might not even get mentioned in your book. All this extra information lets your character become believable, just like a real person.
5. Flesh out more ideas for your plot especially the crisis and the solution.
It’s important to flesh out the details before you start writing because you can run into problems in the plot later on. There may even be some key details that need to be strategically placed throughout the book, which you cannot do if you don’t plan things out.
6. Decide how you’re going to write
Are you going to write a prologue? Is the prologue essential? Are you going to write in first person or in third (omniscient) person? It all depends on what you want your readers to know and not know. It also depends on whether or not you are going to be writing from one perspective or more than one.
7. Start writing.
Enough said. Write to your heart’s content and don’t stop (by “don’t stop” I don’t mean write for days on end without eating, drinking, etc. Please do the necessary things you need to do in order to stay alive. If you die, who’s going to finish your book?!)
8. Keep detailed notes
As you write, it’s a good idea to make notes as you go along. Perhaps while you are writing, you come up with some good ideas as you flesh out the story. Write those down so you can easily access them, especially what you were thinking. It’s also a good idea to write down when you want certain things to happen or appear in your book. For example, perhaps one character has something special about them that you don’t want the readers to know until just before a pivotal moment or not at all. For example, I have one character give another something, the importance behind the gift isn’t what the gift is but the reason behind giving it and what it means for the character that gave it. This idea popped in my head when I was still in the early stages of writing and planning my story.
9. Check your notes/timelines (make sure you’re still headed in the right direction).
When you’re writing, it’s useful to constantly check your notes and timelines to make sure that you are still writing what you originally planned. There are many times that I wrote something that trailed off course that had nothing to do with where I needed the characters to go, so I got rid of that extra stuff. It’s important to keep the stuff that the readers need to know in order for the plot to work, anything extra isn’t going to help your plot much and is unnecessary.
10. Finish writing and review, review, review.
When you’re finished, I recommend taking a break from the book. Take a week off or longer or even start working on something else! When you go back to it, you can look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. I wrote a book in 2011 and didn’t look at it again until 2017 (not the BEST idea of a “break”, but I had my reasons). When I delved into the book again, I was able to see my characters from a completely new perspective and see the things that were unnecessary as well as add in more details of the characters’ interactions together to make them have a better and stronger relationship with each other.
My first self-published book Mizuki Beautiful Moon is available on Amazon for purchase here.
Eren Wiebe is a blogger at sakuradaisuki, writer, editor, figure skater, amateur photographer, and mom to her fur baby, Piko.