Without a doubt, the beginning of any complex task is the hardest to accomplish. For beginners, how to start writing a book requires more than learning the technical aspects of beginning to get the novel down on paper.
It’s generally agreed among authors, editors and publishers that those first pages are absolutely crucial to your book’s success.
The two videos transcribed below look at this from the viewpoint of and editor and an author. As you will find, they agree one hundred percent. The whole craft and point of writing anything is to get those readers turning the page. If the first pages don’t intrigue and enthral, the novel won’t be read and months of work will be for nothing.
How To Get Started Writing A Book
(with Ellen Rock)
Hi guys. It’s Ellen Rock, freelance editor. I know I haven’t made a video in a long time – I’ve been really busy, but you guys have sent me a lot of really great requests, and I really do want to get to all of them.
It’s just going to take me a while because I have a lot on my plate right now. I’ve gotten comments and emails from a lot of people saying that they missed the novel boot camp event that I held on my blog. I guess I didn’t really do a great job promoting it. Part of it was, I wasn’t sure how big it would get and I didn’t want things get too out of hand.
Because this is the first year that I’ve done it, but it turned out really well. There was a lot of participation, probably about as much as I could handle this year. I am hoping to make it bigger next year. I’m not exactly sure how I will execute it, but I’ll make sure to let everybody know in advance and make sure that it’s really clear when it’s happening and how you can participate.
I know a lot of people don’t have a lot of time and maybe it’s easier to watch a video than it is to read a long blog post. So the first thing I covered during novel boot camp was how to write a great first page. I talked about it in terms of the first page promise, because really the first page is the promise of the potential of your book.
It’s the promise of the tone and the genre and the type of story that you’re going to be telling. I compare this the first page to an audition. If you’re an actor and you’re going out for a role, you really have to demonstrate your ability to the casting director in a very short period of time, very quickly.
And they’re going to be making a very fast decision about whether they like you and whether you suit the role that they’re looking to cast. How this applies your first page is that when you’re looking to impress a publisher, the first page is really what’s going to tell the agent that they either really like this book.
That it really suits what they’re interested in, or it’s going to tell them, you know, this isn’t really my thing. So if we go along with this analogy, where the first page is your audition, then when you have a partial or full manuscript requested by an agent or an editor, that’s like your callback.
Now if you’re an actor and you go to a callback, how you perform is very, very different from how you performed an audition, the casting director might get a little bit confused. They might get frustrated, and more likely than not, they’ll be disappointed because they liked what you did at the audition.
They called you back to see more of what they already saw. If your novel does not deliver what the first page promises, you’re in trouble. That’s because the people who loved your first page will be disappointed when they find out that that’s not really what your book is about. People who would have loved your book won’t necessarily read it if the first page is an inaccurate representation of what the book is like.
This means that the wrong people will read your book, and this will apply no matter if you’re self-publishing or you’re sending to agents or you’re sending to editors. You want the right people to read your book. You want the people who read your book to be the people who will like it. You love the genre, like the tone or interested in the plot, so it’s very important that the first page accurately reflects the book as a whole.
So this really starts with the tone and the tone is sort of the atmosphere of your novel. It’s the sense that it creates in the reader. You know, is it mysterious? Is it scary? Is it exciting? Is it romantic? You obviously can’t go a hundred percent to show this tone right off the bat but at the very least you can allude to the tone based on your word choices and sort of the vibe that you give off with your first page.
A lot of amateur writers set the wrong tone. There are three main reasons why this happens. The first is that the writer starts at the beginning and writes to the end, and they don’t really realize what the novel is about until maybe halfway through. Or maybe even to the very end but after they’re done they don’t go back and change the book. They leave the original opening that really doesn’t suit the book.
The second reason is that the writer is worried that the logical place to start their book isn’t interesting or exciting enough, so they’ll try to put in a scene before the logical opening that maybe is a little more exciting, a little more adventurous. But a lot of the time these scenes feel tacked on. Sometimes they’re a prologue.
A lot of the times with my clients, I’ll see things like this, that even after you get all the way through the book, you can go back and read the beginning. The very first scene, whether it’s the first chapter or the prologue, and it doesn’t really make sense. It doesn’t really fit with the book. It’s not even really clear why it was included. This is usually because the writer is just afraid that where they’re starting the book is not interesting enough.
The third reason that the first page might not set the right tone is if you’re too busy cramming information in to really let the reader breathe and experience the world and the characters, and really come to understand what the book is about, and what it’s going to be like. So the first page needing to convey the tone of the book and really give readers a good idea what to expect.
That’s the main reason why you’ll see a lot of writing advice to not start with dreams, prologue, flashbacks, things like that in the beginning of your novel. It’s not so much that this is inherently bad all of the time, it’s just that you don’t want to use these things as a device to make your novel see more interesting, if it doesn’t actually convey anything about the book.
Sometimes this is just sort of lazy writing. It’s easier to write an interesting flashback, or dream, or prologue than it is to write a really interesting first chapter. First chapters take a lot of work. You should expect to rewrite it probably the most of anything in the entire book because it’s really hard to set that tone right from the beginning.
But tacking on an extra part in the beginning to try to make it seem more interesting really isn’t going to work, because readers are going to get to the part that you’re trying to hide. The part that’s not really so exciting, so it’s not ultimately going to benefit you. More likely than not, it will just create a greater sense of disappointment.
So now we’ve talked about the importance of setting the right tone and atmosphere in the first page of your novel. Let’s talk about how you can create a promise that you can keep. How you can write a great first page. The first step is to identify the tone of your novel. Is it creepy, heartwarming, funny, romantic? Whatever it is make sure that you’re clear on what kind of tone you want to convey. What you want to make the reader feel when they start reading your book.
But don’t go overboard! You don’t want the first thing that your reader reads to be the most exciting thing that happens in the whole book, or the scariest thing that happens in the whole book. You want to build in intensity. The easiest way to accomplish this is to start with a sort of micro version of what the larger plot is going to be about.
For example, if your novel about overthrowing an oppressive government, you could start by showing the main character standing up to an oppressive postal worker. Or if your novel is about a boy learning to be himself, you could show him covering up his true feelings while trying to get away from a bully. These things demonstrate right away to the reader what the point of the book is going to be, what the book is about in a larger sense than just what the plot is about.
Because you won’t quite yet be revealing what the whole plot is about. In both of these examples, the writer would have no problem setting a clear tone, but also building in intensity over time. Before you start rewriting your first page, or working on revisions, remember that writing a great first page means writing the best overall representation of your novel.
It doesn’t mean writing an exciting car chase, or something totally outrageous and gripping. A hook can be valuable and important, but don’t force one if your story doesn’t have one on its own. So I hope this video helped you get a better idea of how you can write a great first page that best represents your book, and gives you the best possible chance at attracting the right readers, and repelling the ones that really don’t save your book anyway.
How To Start Writing A Book
(video by Stefanie Newell)
Hi YouTube! Author Stefanie Newell and this is The Life Of A Writer channel. Today’s video – How To Write A Book For Beginners – The First Five Steps.
So if you want to connect with readers and sell more books. Make sure to subscribe and get new content to your inbox every Tuesday. But in this video, I’m going to be providing the first five steps for writing a book. Now by taking these first five steps, you’ll learn the correct order to do things in and it also puts you on a path to becoming a published author.
So if you want to take advantage of my writers checklist where I provide 22 steps for writing and publishing your first book, make sure to check out the description box below.
Step number one – Overcoming your fears! Now there are a lot of different fears around writing and publishing a book. For some people it may be around the writing itself and other people there may be a fear of failure or maybe even success. So step number one should always be addressing what fears, you may have and what’s at the root of those fears and also considering what challenges you’re going to face on your writing journey.
So if you know that procrastination is a problem, for example, you definitely want to address that in step number one. Now I have a book called Write A Book Now! Overcoming Your Fear Of Writing where I help writers to figure out exactly what those fears are and give you some tips on how to overcome it.
Step number two – Hone your book idea! Now this is a step that you’re going to spend a considerable amount of time. You don’t want to think about it and then move on to step three, because you really want to be thoughtful with this particular step.
This is the step where you figure out whether or not you can write on this subject matter for 80,000 words, for example. This is also the step where you’re going to figure out if this is something that you’re passionate about. Because passion is really going to be important for the other steps in this process where it gets a little bit more challenging and where more is required of you.
Passion is what’s going to keep driving you through the writing process. For those of you who write fiction, you’re going to be thinking about things such as your characters. So what do they look like? What types of jobs do they have? What motivates them? What makes them angry? What makes them sad?
And you also want to be thinking about your plot as well as your point of view in this particular step. Now, if you haven’t seen my previous video on plot. I definitely will link that in the description box below. For those of you who write nonfiction, you want to start to think about who your audience is.
Who specifically are you writing this book for? And what message it is that you want to share?
And in this step is also where you’re going to be thinking about your outline. So for those of you who write fiction or nonfiction, you want to start to draft exactly what it is that you want to accomplish with your book.
Whether it’s your plot or your theme, you definitely want to do that in this step.
Step number three – Decide on your genre! So now that you’ve had an opportunity to hone your book idea and you know exactly the direction you want to take your book in. Think about what books are similar to the book that you want to write.
As a matter of fact down in the comment section below, share with me the books that are similar to the book that you’re trying to write. Now once you have a list of maybe five or 10 books go on Amazon and look at those particular books and see what genre those books are in and that will help you with step four.
Step number four – Determine your target audience. Now, this is another really important step because you’re going to learn two different things in this step. Number one you’re going to learn how to write with your target audience in mind and then you’re also going to in the later steps, learn how to also market to your target audience.
Now this isn’t a perfect science. You’re not going to know everything about your target audience. Initially, this is something that you’re going to continue to learn as you write more, as you market more… but you want to start to give some consideration to your genre and what their expectations are.
In step three, I encouraged you to go on Amazon and start to figure out exactly what genre your book falls in. In this step I’m going to encourage you to read some reviews from that particular genre because reviewers leaves such awesome clues as to who is a part of your target audience.
So for example, if someone leaves a review and they say that they are an avid reader. That’s a clue! If they say something about their age or that they’re a female and that they have kids… all of those different things start to help you to figure out exactly how you need to write for this audience and how later you can target this audience through marketing.
Step number five. Consider your publishing method. Now this is a step that some writers wait until they’re absolutely finished writing their book to give some consideration to, but I think it’s important to think about it now whether or not you’re going to self publish your book or traditionally publish, because they are really two different paths and they require two different things.
So by thinking about it very early in the process, you can start to see what needs to happen on your writing journey in order for you to be successful, if you want to connect with readers and sell more books.