How To Start Writing A Book For Beginners – Help Writing A Book

how to start writing a novel for beginners

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)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idb6OIJ1Pv4

Video Transcript:

How to start writing a book for beginners - online workshopsHi 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.

best way to start writing a book

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.

how to begin writing a novelThe 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.

How To Get Started Writing A NovelSo 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 novel for beginners - Novel writing course with Alessandra Torres

How To Start Writing A Book

(video by Stefanie Newell)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w2rHqxwlho

Video Transcript:

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.

Begin writing a book - Writer's Workshop Link - ceative course online - novel writing

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.

how to start writing a book for beginnersWho 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.

how to start writing a bookIn 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.

How To Begin Writing A Book The Right Way

How to begin writing a book - featured

Hi everyone – Alexa Donne here and today I am talking all about starting your novel in the right place.

Now this is kind of a buzzy phrase that you may have heard, especially if anyone has ever told you, if you’ve heard people tell other writers ‘hmm I think you’re starting your book in the wrong place’.

You hear this because it’s really critical to start your book in the right place. Ideally you want to start with a scene that illustrates character, conflict, world and ideally also stakes. Now this is a tall order. There’s a lot to accomplish in whatever your opening scene or chapter is.

Essentially, what people mean when they say that you’re starting in the wrong place is your pacing is off. If you start too early, you’re pacing is going to drag. It’s going to feel slow, and if you start too late, your pacing is going to feel too fast.

You’re throwing people into a situation, usually an action scene, where they don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know who people are and they don’t have a reason to care, so you kind of have to strike that balance between boring people to tears and confusing the heck out of them.

Alexa Donne’s Youtube Channel

Video Transcript (cont’d)

How To Start Writing A Novel Beginners – A Few Tips

There’s that kind of middle ground. My best advice is to think about starting your novel the day that it all changes, or alternately 15 minutes before it all changes. Not necessarily literally by the way, you want to think of it kind of abstractly, as what is the thing that happens right before the big change happens?

The big change being your inciting incident. Very often the answer to this question will tell you where you might want to start your novel. In many cases this is going to be a slice of life of kind of, who your characters are and kind of what their life is about before everything changes.

But that said, you want to be careful not to make it boring a play-by-play of everything that your character does in there life. Their normal life is going to be frankly boring. You have to think more dynamic than that.

Whatever scene you choose, as I mentioned, is gonna have to perform all of those functions – introducing character, the world, the conflict and the stakes. Often, part of this is introducing multiple characters, how they relate to each other and and how they tie into the conflict end of the stakes.

You want this scene to be interesting and specific. Whatever you choose should say something about your character and your world. That said, this shouldn’t be like a massive info-dump. Now I’ve said it before and I will say it again – don’t all start your books this way but one of my favorite ways to accomplish this is through party scenes.

How to begin a book with structureParty scenes tell you a lot about the character, the world they live in, how they interact with people and you can throw a lot of conflict into a party scene. This by the way, it might not be the literal start to your book but a party scene or something similar to it.

You want to think of other dynamic, social situations that are kind of similar to what a party is. Having that kind of in that first part of your book before the inciting incident can be really really useful. I have indeed started two books like right in the middle of a party scene and I rather like them. It can work really really well.

You also want to remember the adage of entering late and leaving early. You don’t need to have a prolonged set-up of, whatever it is, of like again, the play-by-play of everything that a character is doing. You want to throw people into the scene when things are basically kind of already happening.

Then you want to leave before they peter out and get boring. I mean this is the rule of thumb for any scene but especially your opening scene. if you don’t start, if you start too early essentially and it’s not dynamic, and it’s boring people won’t read past the first page.

Now I want to talk a bit about prologues. You’ve also probably heard that you shouldn’t start your book with a prologue and I’m gonna reinforce that advice. I say 98% of the time do not have a prologue. The reason for this is is that very, very typically especially in things like fantasy and sci-fi the prologue is from a different point of view or a different perspective or takes place in a different time.

It’s often not the main thrust of your story and your main character, and so prologues can be really off-putting. They can be confusing and they don’t accurately give the reader an idea of what your book is actually about.

This is especially prudent for querying because you really only get that one chance for agents to read your first page but even when it comes to readers picking up your book in a bookstore, a prologue could potentially put them off the story.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules. There are prologues that definitely work. If you have a favorite book and it has a really effective prologue, take a look at it. I will say typically they’re pretty short. They are in line with the tone and the themes of the book, and they typically aren’t from a completely different perspective or point of view from the main character.

How To Begin Writing A Novel – It’s The Beginning That Counts!

How to begin a novel - the beginningPrologues just kind of slow down the pacing cuz beginnings really are all about pacing. Now I want to give you some concrete examples of openings to great books that I think work really really well. It’s tricky to kind of talk in the abstract about, well, how you should start your novel.

I mean, I just did it – I gave you some of these parameters for what you should and shouldn’t do but I find most useful is looking at novels that start really really well. You can like start to pick them apart and see why they work. So I’m gonna start with my perennial and favorite example which is the Hunger Games.

We open with Katniss and it’s actually fairly domestic. It’s essentially that slice of life, that day in the life. It is also the day that everything changes for her, so by showing us Katniss interacting with and taking care of family The Hunger Games tells you a lot about the character of Katniss and the characters that she interacts with, and a lot about the world it gradually starts to reveal.

Kind of who this character is, the world that they live in. From home she goes hunting and hunting and interacting with Gale. The conversation that they have about the reaping and taking care of their families and your name goes in the bowl more than once if you break the rules, etc.

It tells you a lot about the oppressive world that they’re living in, and also literally you know, is barreling you towards that inciting incident. It’s dynamic, it’s interesting. As you’re reading you’re like ‘oh well this is weird. what’s going on?’

I think it’s incredibly effective, so obviously this isn’t a single scene. This is a series of dynamic character and world specific scenes that drive you neatly to the reaping. By the time you get there, you know who Katniss is, you know where she lives you know who she cares about, most importantly.

So when everything happens with the reaping and prim you have an emotional reaction. You are furiously turning the pages to find out what happens next. Another favorite of mine is actually a bit prologue too, but it works really really well and that is Across the Universe by Beth Revis.

The first chapter of Across the Universe takes place hundreds of years before the main thrust of the action of Across the Universe but it is an essential glimpse into the past and setup because it sets up the entire novel.

How to begin writing a book guideYou’re with Amy or in her perspective. She’s with her parents. She’s made the decision to be cryogenically frozen and go on the speech. You’re with her as she’s going through this process and she’s giving you the context of where she is, which fills in the back story and also sets up again the conflict and the stakes.

We get the chance to meet her parents and get a a sense of who Amy is and what she cares about, where she’s going and so following chapters, when it’s a couple hundred years later, she wakes up and you know the plot kicks off.

It’s a very tightly paced novel and you’re already emotionally invested in a very very good opening. A good specific choice for where we start with our character leading up to the inciting incident. I don’t think it would have been quite as effective if it had started on the spaceship with Amy waking up.

I think having that glimpse into the past is really essential in the case of this novel for setting up the plot and the characters. Then there is Frost Blood, which is actually another good example of a prologue that is not a prologue. See if you know how these things work. You can cheat and basically do the same function because the first chapter of Frost blood is essentially kind of like a flashback.

It isn’t but it is. It takes place a year before everything else in the novel, like the main plot, takes place. It is the set up of who Ruby is, the world that she lives in. We become familiar with the characters that she cares about and then it nails you right at the end of the first chapter with the conflict and stakes.

Her mother is murdered in front of her, because of her, so you get her guilt and her feelings and of course why she would have a drive for revenge, which is what fuels the rest of the plot. Now wasn’t a spoiler because it is basically on the jacket flap that Ruby’s mom dies but that is it’s a very exciting setup, because it starts showing her secretly using her powers.

You know immediately that they’re forbidden, that she shouldn’t be doing this, that she lives with her mother and her mother is all she has. Then the soldiers come to town and you know immediately it’s like ‘oh god’ – conflict, stakes – what’s gonna happen?

So that’s another example that I really really like. Talking a bit about some of the choices I have made in my books and how I have started off my novels. I actually tend to favor that slice of life day-in-the-life approach. I like to settle into the characters in their world and who they are before ice them in the face with the inciting incident, so in brightly burning.

How to begin writing a novel infoIt’s really mundane, relatively speaking, the way that I start the book. I hope it’s not boring – it’s mundane in the sense that it is kind of normal everyday life stuff but in the case of you know Where Stella Lives normal everyday life stuff is a bit chaotic.

The book starts with a gravity failure and she has to go to engineering to basically fix the ship. So you know that Stella lives on a ship that has problems. She is an engineer so she’s responsible for fixing those problems. I clue you in really quick to the fact that she hates her job and is trying to escape.

She wants to become a governess, a teacher on another ship and you know in that you know first couple of chapters leading up to the inciting incident, which happens inchapter three or four, which is later than a lot of inciting incidents.

You don’t always have to stick to chapter one or chapter two. Your inciting incident, it’s all a buildup of where she lives, the things that she’s facing, the things that she wants and we know why she can’t have them.

Then Oh inciting incident – she gets what she wants and she goes off on her adventure. Then in my new book So Space Sucks (this would be my NaNoWriMo project) I start with a party. I really love parties so I just go right into it um you know, there’s a party.

I introduce the whole cast of characters and kind of how they interact with their world. This start is very very different to Brightly Burning. Brightly Burning starts immediately, telegraphing to you this is a ship that is falling apart. Things are not going great.

Whereas in my new book in space, it’s set on a very different ship and in a different time in the fleet for my world build and so I’ll just tell you like from a class perspective it’s a very different experience.

It’s a fancy party. I talk about the food and the drinks and the way people are dressed. There’s less dress porn and kind of who is interacting with whom and why it matters. In this case I did stick that inciting incident right at the end of the first chapter, so you have to kind of go with your gut for what beginning and what pacing is going to work for your novel projects.

Also in the case of Space Dunks I do the case of enter late and leave early. I start kind of smack-dab in the middle of the party. It’s almost reached its peak. My character is kind of totally over it. I have her interact with a bunch of people and then she leaves before the party ends, to go deal with stuff.

How to start writing a novel for beginners guidelinesIt would have been boring if I’d started it ‘oh well she’s at her closet and she’s picking out a dress and she puts on her shoes’. What’s the party sound like and what does the party look like. It would have dragged, whereas I started right in the like the the meat of it. so that I could move the plot along.

So those are my main tips first starting your novel in the right place. Think about slice-of-life, think about right before the inciting incident. Think dynamic scenes that show off character, world, conflict and stakes. Who is in your character’s life? Why are they important to them?

What’s in their way? Think about scenes that are gonna illustrate this without having massive info dumps, you know people just talking at each other. These need to be scenes where things happen and people interact with each other and there are micro conflicts within the scene.

Katniss interacting with her mom and her sister – in very different ways those are micro conflicts. Katniss hunting and running into Gale. There are micro conflicts in those scenes and there are conversations that people have but they’re not info dumping.

They’re having these conversations for an organic reason, so think about some of those examples in terms of how you are starting your novel. I hope this helped, though definitely drop some comments down below. This is how I approach starting novels but I’m sure there are things that I haven’t thought of. If you have specific questions hit me up with them – I will answer them in the comments.

If they spark a new idea I will make another video. Thank you so much for watching everyone. If you liked this one I’d love thumbs up. It lets me know that you like the video so I can make more of them. Good luck starting those novels or revising those novels. if you think you’re starting in the wrong place, and as always everyone ‘happy writing’.

How To Begin Writing A Book PDF