Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How to Write a Book, Sort of

When we write a book we read (and re-write), re-read (and re-write) and re-read (and re-write) our copy as we work to improve the story. In addition to writing a plot which makes sense and entices readers to continue their reading, we’ve got to keep an eye on many other things involved in the writing of a story.

Here a few things we need to keep in mind:

1. Characters: consistencies in the way they behave (true to their nature, to who they are), in their physical descriptions, their histories as “people,” etc.
2. Settings: where are the characters--country, state, city, house, room, etc.
3. Who: who’s in the scene, where are they, what are they doing, etc.
4. Goals: what are the goals of the POV character in the scene, story, etc.
5. POV: In whose point of view are we writing and why

While these are the main things we writers must keep in mind as we trudge through our story’s plot, we also must be aware of HOW we are saying what we are saying.

How are we:

1. Phrasing our description?
2. Describing our setting?
3. Illustrating our characters through dialogue?
4. Making POV clear to our readers?
5. Using words cleverly to execute our plot?

With all these things working in our heads at the same time as we strive to write a story which can be easily read by our dear readers, it’s no wonder we can miss the little things which tend to bog down a story’s pace such as:

1. Using meaningless intensifiers such as “perhaps” “very” or “always”
2. Using “that” where it isn’t necessary
3. Using extraneous phrases such as “as a matter of fact” “when all is said and done”
4. Using redundant modifiers like “past memories” “important essentials” “tiny little”
5. Using repetitive categories such as “huge in size” and “blue in color”

A good method to use in writing a book is this:

1. Work on plot layout and characters
2. Once your pre-writing work is done (research, plot layout, character identification) write the first draft working mainly on the storyline
3. Second draft should concentrate on fixing weaknesses on plot and character
4. Third draft and succeeding drafts should continue to fix weaknesses
5. Final draft should fix all the edits such as the overuse of intensifiers, “that” type of words, and redundant words and phrases, etc.

Of course, you may already have a better way of doing things, but if you need a little steering or grounding as you struggle to complete your book, I hope these tips help.

Good luck with your current project.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

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