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How to Write a Book

by | May 13, 2024

Content Manager

Ara Koetts

Ara Koetts, a leading voice at Voxtury.com, specializes in AI content creation, blending technology with creativity. Her insights into AI's impact on storytelling and ethical considerations make her a pivotal figure for anyone exploring digital innovation. Ara's work is a guiding light in the dynamic world of content creation, inspiring confidence and curiosity in her readers.

people reading in a bookstore

Writing a book is something most people dream of at one point in their lives. How many times have you heard, “You should write a book about that!” If you followed that advice, what would you write about? Do you already know your great, publishable book idea? 

The choices are almost endless, just like the genres – cooking (vegetarian, BBQ, home recipes, ethnic, gluten-free, vegan, Italian, for kids, etc.), non-fiction (memoir, diary, research, creative non-fiction, how-to, etc.), or fiction (we’re not even going to make a list this one!)

Some people just “enjoy writing” – they don’t have an idea yet. That’s ok. Some of the greatest writers in the world suffered through this problem. Some of them, like J.K. Rowling, started small – writing their ideas on napkins or pocket notebooks. 

Luckily for you, today’s technology makes book writing easier than at any other time in history. 

Finding a Book Idea – the First Step to Book Writing

The first roadblock for a lot of writers is finding a good idea. Sometimes, you have a vague outline in your head, sometimes just certain details of one character or a situation. 

Finding something to write about can be easy – a lot of people just find it difficult to commit. Like a lot of creative people, writers have a million ideas a minute. We just have to find that one idea that sticks. 

A good way of doing it is to get it all down on paper – and by that, we just mean your thoughts and ideas. Lay the list aside for a few days and get back to it with “fresh eyes”. By then, you’ll probably realize what screams out, “Write about me!” the most. 

You have to have an interest in the subject – a passion and curiosity. Your life experiences might play a lot into it. Even fiction writers draw a lot from their personal lives. If we know something, we’ll know how to describe it and how to make people feel what we’re writing. 

One of the best examples of this process is Barbara Kingsolver – her books are so descriptive and full of detail that they seem like they are written by a person who has lived and experienced every second described in the book. 

But this just goes to show that great writers are great observers. Finding a good book subject means quieting your mind and looking outwards. Observing. Do you want to write a book about gardening? 

Watch gardening documentaries. From many countries. Read gardening books and magazines. Talk to gardeners. Invite them for dinner! Or better yet, let them make you dinner from the bounty of their garden. Unless they are only into topiary. 

Remember that in order to get to the part where you can dive into research head-first, you don’t have to be perfect. Brainstorming subjects is about writing down a million ideas a minute.

Don’t get to the “perfect” part before you go through this. 

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How to Develop a Book Plot and Believable Characters 

Believable characters are as important as an interesting plot. After all, the readers are going to love them, hate them, and even develop a crush on them. They should be developed well enough for people to see themselves in them. Or to see the people they know. 

Character Development

Let’s get started! For each character, define their:

  • Personality: Are they introverted or extroverted? Optimistic or cynical? How do they see themselves? 
  • Motivation: What drives them? What desires and fears shape their actions?
  • Background: What experiences have shaped who they are?
  • Strengths and Flaws: Nobody is perfect. Give your characters realistic flaws that create internal conflict and growth opportunities.
  • Relationships and Dynamics: How do your characters interact with each other?
  • Alliances and Rivalries: Will they form friendships, partnerships, or bitter rivalries?
  • External Conflicts: How do these relationships influence how they react to external challenges?
  • Internal Conflicts: Does your character battle with themselves? Why? Is it guilt driving their actions? Love? Jealousy? A mix of all of them? 

This is a bare minimum for any character. Remember that often, characters are based on real people – define them too. You can try to expand character development and take up a whole notebook doing it until you know them so well you can almost touch them. If you can do that, your readers will benefit.

Plot Development

Start with the hero’s journey, or “the point” of the story. This is a short plot description of conflict, problem-solving, resolution, etc. Everything else just comes along the way. There are common, widely accepted parts to a book plot that you should remember when putting together an outline. They work the same whether you’re writing a multi-book fantasy series or if you’re writing a light novel

Exposition: Or an introduction. This explains the setting of the story and the problems the main characters are facing. It introduces the main players. 

Rising Action: This is where the problems start getting interesting. Your reader should be hooked by now. 

Midpoint: A turning point that forces your characters to adapt their approach. This can come as an element of surprise or something that was foreshadowed earlier. 

Climax: The most intense moment of conflict and resolution. This usually tends to be near the end of the book. 

Falling Action: The consequences of the climax and the resolution of the main conflict.

Denouement: Ties up loose ends and provides a sense of closure. Or, it might be a great opportunity to lead up to a sequel, and keep the readers guessing “until next time.” Do you want to write a series? 

If you’re writing a non-fiction book, there is no plot. You have to decide on the structure. It can be chronological, thematic, or have a problem and solution. Above all, instead of a “plot,” it has to have a logical flow that doesn’t confuse the reader. 

Final Touches – Editing Your Manuscript

Finding a good editor is hard. This is why a lot of prolific authors develop deep professional relationships with their editors and don’t let go. A good book editor can make or break your writing success. 

American Copy Editors Society is a good place to start looking for a professional editor. If you want to go the undiscovered editing talent route, you can search for a freelancer on social media in writing communities or platforms like Fiverr.

Alternatively, you can do most of the work yourself with various editing tools and technologies –  there are custom writing editors that can automatically correct your spelling and grammar or find duplicate words in your copy. These are the things you often won’t find by yourself as your own eyes don’t see your own mistakes. 

What to look for when hiring a book editor? 

  • Expertise in your genre – they really do have to know your genre in order to correct any logical or research errors. 
  • Type of editing you are looking for – there are different types of editing, and they require different time commitments and know-how. Editing isn’t just “proofreading” – it’s a collaborative process that shapes your creative work. 
  • Attention to detail – ask for their portfolio and see for yourself how their editing process works. Check the quality of their work – if you’re satisfied with what you see, chances are your collaboration will be a breeze.

How to Publish Your Book

Self-publishing is a popular way to go for a lot of writers, even if they have perfect chances of getting picked up by a “normal” publisher. 

Why? This way, no one takes control of your process and you have a blank canvas when it comes to cover design, editing, and all the tiny little pieces of what makes up a book. A publisher might not let you decide on all of those things. 

A con of self-publishing is that you have to invest more up-front for printing. But if you’re positive that your book is going to do well, then you know that paying up-front is just an investment. 

Write a Book Synopsis 

A great book synopsis does the book selling for you? What is it? It’s basically a description of your book, and it encourages people to read it. But it’s much more than that: it’s a huge selling point. 

A synopsis gets read by publishers and conveys the “essence” of your story, so that people buy into it – literally. It might make or break you publishing deal. 

Agents and editors also need the synopsis to get the story straight without reading the whole book. This is why a synopsis is so much more than just a summary. 

Distribute and Promote 

Whether you self-publish or land a publishing deal, the book needs to be distributed into bookstores and promoted. 

Today, many self-published books are sold online only, and promoted via social media. If you have a publisher, they take care of much of this process for you. Writers often get organized book signing engagements, press releases, media coverage and other marketing opportunities thanks to established publishers who invest in promotion in order to sell more books. 

If you self-publish, you need to be much more hands-on to hit the shelves. Make sure your book is carried by major book distributors. If you don’t know what they are, you should find out – they are the ones who rule the bookstore shelves. Bookstores order books directly from them, not from publishers. 

Final Words of Encouragement for New Authors

Publishing your book can be a challenging but incredibly rewarding journey. Whether you choose the traditional path or the self-publishing route, remember that the most important ingredient is your story itself. This is what’s going to sell in the end, and this is what you’re going to be known for. 

So go ahead and pour your heart into your writing, and don’t be afraid to put your work out there. If you get discouraged, remember the thousands of famous authors who didn’t make it on their first try!

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