How to Write a Book (1 of 4) – Getting Started.

Issue #106
Blog #19-2019
Section: Writing Tips
Blogger: Joseph Clay

There are hundreds of websites, blogs and online courses that cover this subject. There are also that many or more books. This series of blogs will not teach you how to write, tell you what words to avoid or cover the rules of writing.

This four part blog series is geared toward the beginning writer. The one that has the drive and desire to write and publish their first book.

These four blogs will give that writer an idea of where to began.

ThunderHorse Publishing will cover what it takes to get the idea in the writers head to paper in the form of a manuscript then to a published worked of literature. This four part blog series will cover everything from writing space, the tools of the trade and stages of a manuscript along with publishing.

Now that all that is out of the way let us get to the blog, after all that is the reason you are here.

Thinking about writing and publishing a book but don’t know where to start?

The Basics

With any new adventure, planning is the best place to begin. Before writing one word understand the commitment, advantages and disadvantages of the adventure. What are your goals? What do you expect as a reward for your efforts?

Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher

One advantage to writing is it can reduce stress and boost creativity as it is a form of art. Like an artist who uses paints on canvas to create a piece of art, the writer does the same only with words.

Writing can also sharpen focus and helps with memory as it de-clutters the brain.

Samuel Dashiell Hammett puts it best, if you have a story in your head get it on paper. Tell your story regardless of the subject matter.

Once the story is in manuscript form, whether on paper or the computer the new writer then can seek help if needed. That help will consist of finding a professional to help tweak the story to make it the best possible work of literature. The first step however belongs to the writer.

There are many disadvantages to being an author, independent or traditional.

  • Time and Commitment: A Novel takes time to write. Do not fall for the, ‘write a novel in thirty days’. The writer must make the commitment to write every day.
  • Money: Professionals to edit, design book covers, format the manuscript so it can be published can get expensive.
Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher

Notice the first line of the disadvantage Rachel Kushner talks about. She doesn’t state that writing is a way to make a living but is a way of living. Writing is something a writer feels has to be done for survival.

Rachel also points out there are more books in the world than readers. What does this mean for the new author?

This puts the unknown and/or independent author at a disadvantage. The new writer will need a marketing plan. Marketing will take dedication, time and money. However it is a must to get the writers work and name in front of as many readers as possible.

The book itself will need to be as close to perfect as possible. Free from grammar and spelling mistakes and an eye catching cover. With the world full of books the first impression the writer makes with the reader is important. Nine times out of ten the writer will only get one shot to impress.

Below are three different authors with advice that the new author should note.

  • Maybe You’re One – Kim Addanizio. This is the most important of the four. A writer must be a reader. Kim speaks of poems but this applies to all genres.
  • Writing Isn’t About – Stephen King. Choosing to write for one of the reason’s Stephen lists is a sure way to fail. Write because you desire to, not fame and/or money.
  • You Can’t Write a Novel – Orson Scott Card. I mentioned this earlier but bears repeating. You can’t write a novel at one sitting. Also note what makes up a novel.
  • Everybody Walks Past – Orson Scott Card. Story ideas all around us, the writer must be able to spot a majority of them.

That covers some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing a book along with some tips and the mind set that is required.

The Writing Space

Where the writing takes place is as important as the writing. The writer will use this area to write and gather the information for the book.

Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher
Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher

Where to write: The main goal of the writing space is comfort for the writer.

The writer should chose a space that is away from people traffic. This allows the writer to be alone with as few interruptions as possible.

Some writers prefer to write in complete silence while others like music playing in the background. Once again this is about what makes the writer most comfortable and helps invoke their creative side.

The one thing to avoid in the writing space is a TV. Anything visual will draw the writer’s attention away from visualizing their own story.

Equip the writing space with everything that will be needed for a session of writing. Chargers for the phone and other electronic devices along with beverages and snacks. The key is when the writer sits down to write they have everything at their disposal so they can write without having to stop and leave the sacred writing space.

When to Write: The time of day is not that important. What is important that the writer write everyday. They should have a word count goal or an amount of time for the daily writing session.

The Furnishings/Equipment

There is not much needed to start your writing journey. A desk, couple of small file cabinets, and a comfortable chair. The writer will also need writing instruments, paper or a computer with a word processing program. Along with the computer a printer is needed.

The most valuable tool needed is Imagination!

When using a computer to write and/or research beware of the distractions that can occur. ThunderHorse Publishing is not suggesting the new writer not use a laptop or PC. We are only issuing a warning.

The internet is like a TV, it is visual. A writer who is not disciplined will lose valuable writing time due to the distractions of the internet.

Scenario: Writer is researching vampires on the internet. While doing so the writer runs across the word shape-shifting and doesn’t know the definition of it.

Before the writer opens another window to search for the definition they receive a social media notification. The temptation to check Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter along with the writers other social media accounts takes over.

While checking the notification the writer sees a news story that they must be read. Then a video posted by a friend catches the writers eye.

Ten videos and thirty minutes later the writers train of thought that was on vampires is long gone and replaced with images of playful cats and dogs. Once the writer regains their focus they realize they still don’t know the definition of shape-shifting. Whether on a daily word count goal or a block of writing time the writer has shorted themselves.

The writer has wasted thirty minutes of the block of writing time or 300 words or more from the daily word count. Calculated at a typing rate of 30 WPM.

The only electronics ThunderHorse Publishing recommends for new authors is Siri, Alexa or other similar devices. These devices are voice activated, non visual and can quickly furnish the writer with a definition or spelling of a word.

Need to do some intensive research? Take you writing instrument and legal pad to the public library. The library is a quiet environment and the writer is surrounded by books. Within those books is the knowledge the writer seeks. There is no better place to be.

Reference Material

ThunderHorse Publishing suggests you purchase the following reference books so they are within arms reach in your writing space. The first seven are a must.

  • Dictionary – Don’t skimp on price. Purchase a nice hardback. We recommend a Websters or Oxford.
  • Thesaurus – Don’t skimp on price. Purchase a nice hardback. We recommend a Websters or Oxford.
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone.
  • Write Great Dialogue by Irving Weinman.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
  • Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell.
  • The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV by David Corbett.
  • Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development (Helping Writers Become Authors Book 7) by K. M. Weiland.
  • Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writers. This is a helpful quick reference book that does not take the place of the above full Thesaurus.

The writer will also need to have on hand reference books that pertain to the their Work In Progress (WIP).

For example, a writer of erotic tales may have the book 100 Hot Sex Positions by Tracey Cox. A mystery or crime writer may have the book 100 Deadly Skills by Clint Emerson on their shelf.

Have a bartender as a Pro or Antagonist, may want to have the book Bartending For Dummies on hand. To make your characters and story believable the writer may need to know the ingredients of certain drinks, type of glassware and the equipment used in this profession.

Once you get your writing space ready use it to do what all writers do, read.

Reread you favorite book or a new one. While doing so read it as a writer. Take notes while paying attention to characters and how they talk and react to situations and people. Look at the book layout and formatting along with what’s comes before the story and after.

Afterwords it’s time to do some research. Not the research we will cover in Stage 1. That research is about the books subject matter. This is about gaining knowledge on how to format your document, parts of a book and so on.

Homework: Download, it is free and read the Smashwords Style Guide. Check out a copy or buy The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone, read it also. Another great book that is not listed in the Reference Material above is Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. This is a fast read. The book is not to be taken seriously but the pointers in it are priceless.

Why do all this reading and research?

The writer is looking to gain knowledge of the book writing process they didn’t know. Learning those little things will make the later stages go much smoother. Little things done incorrectly in the beginning will add up and cost valuable time to correct at the end.

Here is an idea of the things that a new writer may not know and what they need to know.

  • All paragraphs that lead off a chapter, after a POV change and/or a time lapse are not indented.
  • When using a line break insert symbols “***” or dashes “—-“, if not the formatter in Stage 7 will remove the blank spaces, that is part of their job.
  • Learn how to turn on and off auto correct
  • Learn how to use the Track Changes feature, if not the writer may miss notes from the editor.
  • Know and understand what front and back matter consist of and how to use it.

Below are a list of Blogs from this site they will also help.

That will do it for blog one. The second part of this series, How to Write a Book (2 of 4) – Manuscript Stages 1-3 will be published on Friday 6-14-19.

Till then do your homework.

ThunderHorse Publishing Team

Other Blogs in this series:

All photos featuring authors and their quotes are from Author D.L. Fisher . ThunderHorse Publishing post a Wednesday Writing Wisdom using these writing tips plus others. Follow us on one of our social media sites to read them every Wednesday.



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