Do you love making up stories, creating characters and plots, and letting your creativity run wild? Secretly, you have been dreaming of writing your own book and becoming an author for some time – there is only one problem: How do you actually write a book? We address this important question in this article. We will give you instructions on how to write a book in just five steps: You will learn how to find and narrow down book ideas and which writing strategy is more effective: plot or write on it? In addition, you will learn how to plan your everyday writing routine and learn important basics of the writing craft. Finally, we’ll give you tips on how to revise and finish your manuscript. Ready? Let’s go!
Writing a book step by step:
- Finding and narrowing down book ideas
- Plot or write on it?
- All craftsmanship or talent?
- Get feedback and revise a manuscript
- Find write times and routine
In the beginning, the idea was to find and narrow down book ideas
Women in a library to write a good book, you need a good idea. Logical! Maybe you already have the first idea while reading this post. Great, please remember! If not, be ready to be surprised by a book idea at any time. Whether it’s walking, checking the news every day, or visiting your favorite coffee shop, if you walk attentively through life, you’re sure to quickly come up with an interesting idea to write a book about. Get into the habit of writing down all book ideas in a notebook or notebook app – unfiltered and without scoring. This can be a topic, a situation, a snippet of conversation, just a word, or whole sentences. Write everything down – it will be sorted out later!
In addition to the external sources of inspiration, also deal with your inner wishes and ideas. Ask yourself the questions:
- Which genre suits me?
- Which stories do I like to tell the most?
- For example, would you like to write a crime novel or a children’s book? Should it be an exciting thriller or an adventurous fantasy book? Or: In which areas do you know particularly well? It is best to share your expert knowledge in a non-fiction book or guidebook. Do you want to pass on your interesting experiences and experiences? Then, for example, you can write your own biography or write a travel guide. No matter which book genre you choose – the topic must suit you and fascinate you in the long term.
Writing exercises and creativity techniques, such as brainstorming and mind mapping, are also helpful. Because these not only help you to collect even more new ideas but also to work them out. You will quickly determine which of your ideas promises the most potential for an exciting plot. For instructions on different writing techniques, check out our free “Writing a Book” white paper.
Can anyone write a book?
Absolute! We are firmly convinced that there is an author in every human being. All you need is an idea, a dose of courage, and some perseverance if you want to write a book. Whether for private use, as a gift, or as a publication – everyone can fulfill the dream of their own book!
Filling the idea with life: plotting or writing on it?
After the first idea, you choose your favorite idea that you want to continue working on. Now it’s time to bring this idea to life. You’re probably wondering: What’s the best way to write a book – plot it first or start writing it right away? And what does “plotting” actually mean?
A plot is the framework of a story. Plotting is therefore about creating this framework and planning the course of your story in advance. Phew, sounds like a lot of extra work, doesn’t it? Yes and no. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages.
If you first structure your story and work out the plot exactly, you will always have the big picture in mind afterward. You know at all times what is happening in your story and what will happen next. This way, you can hang on to your plot structure when you write your book. You can focus better on the individual scenes and avoid jumps in the plot.
However, the danger with plotting lies in the fact that you have tied up your structure too tightly and left too little creative freedom. So your story can become boring and meaningless. If you start writing instead, you can unleash your creativity freely, but you are more susceptible to mistakes in your story and have to invest more time in the rework.
The solution: Find the right mix of structure and freedom for you. Good preparatory work is half the battle – or rather half the book. However, the creative component of book writing must not be neglected. Of course, this applies not only to fiction titles but also to non-fiction books.
When plotting, it is important that you know the cornerstones of your book project. To do this, answer the following questions:
Questions for fiction:
- In which genre do you want to write?
- What is the topic? What is your leitmotif?
- Who are your main and secondary characters? Who is the protagonist, and who is the antagonist?
- How do you characterize your characters? How do they develop over the course of history?
- At which locations does the action take place?
- In which year(a hundred) does the story take place? At what time of year?
- How long is the narrative time?
- From which narrative perspective would you like to tell your story?
- Which narrative structure fits your story? Z.B. Three-, Five-, Seven-Acter or Hero’s Journey?
- What conflict builds up during the plot?
- What major turning points are driving history forward?
- What happens at the climax of the plot, when the conflict escalates?
- How is the conflict ultimately resolved by the protagonist? Is there a happy ending or a tragic ending?
- Questions for non-fiction books:
- What is the main theme of the non-fiction book?
- What problems can people solve with the help of your book?
- What prior knowledge should you give the reader?
- Which related topics could be relevant?
- What questions do people often ask about their chosen book topic?
- Are there myths, prejudices, or misconceptions about the topic that you can clear up?
With which experiences and examples can you make your non-fiction book more personal?
On which aspects are further research necessary?
You can now structure your answers and use them as the basis for your plot. You can also find ways to plot in programs for authors, such as StoryIt and Scrivener. You can also get a very detailed plot with the snowflake method.
Our conclusion for this chapter: Whether you plot or write on it is ultimately a question of type. Feel free to try out both variants and develop an approach that suits you best. For debut authors, however, it is advisable to first develop a structure before they start writing the book.
In the next chapter, we will give you concrete tips on the craft of writing and how to write your story in an exciting way.
Writing a good book: All craftsmanship or talent?
Writing a book after all the preparation, you can finally start the actual work and write your book chapter by chapter. Here, too, there are some points to consider so that in the end not just a book is created, but a good book. You do not have to be extremely talented and have already put your German teachers in ecstasy with your essays during your school days. Because: Yes, you can learn how to write a book. And that’s not as difficult as you probably think now. The most important thing is to offer readers exciting book content. With a talent for writing, you’ll probably find it easier to formulate melodious texts and overcome writer’s block. But the majority is solid craftsmanship. If you already deal with the basics of the writing craft in advance, you will have to revise less in the next step.
Good stories follow a certain pattern in the structure of the storylines. As a rule, at the beginning, the reader is introduced to the characters, the setting, and the plot, and gradually tension is built. A conflict arises that escalates at the height of the story. Afterward, the tension drops again and the conflict is finally resolved by the protagonist. Among the best-known narrative structures are the three-, five- and seven-acter as well as the Hero’s Journey. If you write your story with such a scheme in mind, you will automatically build up a basic tension. Instructions for the mentioned narrative structures can be found in our free white paper “Writing a book”.
Make sure that something goes wrong again and again and that your main character has to fight with himself or other characters. It becomes particularly exciting when you increase the pace and the events rollover. Support dramatic events with a cliffhanger so that the chapter ends with an open end. Readers will not be able to wait to read what happens next. This is how pageturners are created. Above all, many crime and thriller authors have perfected it with mysterious deaths and the search for clues to take the readers on a rollercoaster ride.
Stick to the chosen narrative perspective.
From which narrative perspective can you best tell your story?
An authorial narrator looks at the world from the outside and knows everything that has happened so far, is happening and will happen.
The personal narrator is in the action and reports from the sie or er form.
The most personal is the perspective of the first-person narrator, who subjectively describes his experiences and feelings. This makes it easy for readers to identify with the character.
It can also be exciting if you write your book from several perspectives, e.B. the chapters alternately between two characters in the first-person perspective. This multi-perspective is often used for crime novels and thrillers.
In the case of guides, on the other hand, readers are often addressed directly in you or your form, or the topic is conveyed through a neutral narrative style.
If you’re unsure which narrative perspective suits your book project, write the same scene from different angles. Then choose a concept that you consistently follow when writing a book, because a wild change to many perspectives disrupts the flow of reading.
Develop captivating characters.
Fiction works live from their figures. This makes it all the more important that you develop lively and captivating characters. No one is perfect. That’s why your characters shouldn’t be. Give them rough edges, strengths and weaknesses, and a wide range of emotions. Think in three levels:
On the physical plane, you create the exterior of a figure, such as age, height, eye color, hair length, and clothing.
At the social level, you consider aspects such as the family situation, the circle of friends, level of education, profession, and financial situation.
Finally, you define the psychic level: What dreams, longings, fears, and secrets does the character have? Is she extroverted or introverted? What passion is she passionate about? etc.
All three levels are mutually dependent. This creates three-dimensional figures with which the readers can identify and empathize.
Write dynamic dialogues.
When you let your characters speak, you give a deep insight into their inner world. Each character has his or her own linguistic peculiarities, e.B certain favorite words. By means of dialogues, you can point out conflicts and convey information. Good dialogue drives the plot forward. They are dynamic, exciting, and sound natural. Small talk is not one of them. Because through trivial talk, a conversation quickly becomes boring. Therefore, keep the statements as short as possible and bring them to the core point.
Tanja Steinlechner, the founder of the Schreibhain School of Authors, gives you further important tips for writing dialogues in our video course:
Show don’t tell – Write figuratively.
Bring your story to life by pictorially writing the scenes of your book. You can do this if you show in the actions and dialogues what your characters perceive with all their senses. What do they see, hear, feel, smell, and taste? For example, instead of saying how excited your character is before the upcoming application date, illustrate that emotion through restless leg tapping, a quick breath, and wet palms. This allows readers to visualize what is written. When you read it, you see the story running like a movie in front of you and are even more interested in the action. Trust the readers to actively think along and decipher the meaning behind the words between the lines themselves.
Write for your readers.
Do you want to write a book and then publish it? Then don’t forget to always think about your target audience when writing. You write primarily for your readers who are hoping for something from the purchase of your book – information, food for thought, or entertainment. This also includes, for example, writing scenes that do not appeal to you personally but advance the plot. Or you may have to discuss topics in your non-fiction book that are important for readers’ understanding, but that bore you as an expert.
Correct only after the first draft.
Although it may seem difficult to you at first, do not correct your text during the writing phase. Because with this you interrupt your writing flow. Therefore, first, write a rough version of your book before reviewing your text and making changes.
If you follow these basics, you’re on the right track to writing a good book. Do you still feel insecure when writing? Then look for writing schools, writing courses, or author regulars’ tables – in your area or online – and exchange ideas with experts and other writers. The exchange with like-minded people is generally always recommended. So you can not only learn from each other but also support each other in more difficult phases, for example, overcoming writer’s block.
How long does it take to write a book?
How long it takes or how fast you can write a book is very individual from author to author and depends on many factors: What kind of book you write and how extensive the content is planned. A children’s book or novella, for example, is usually shorter than a non-fiction book or a thriller. It also depends on how much time you have to write, how productive you are at it, and whether you need to do a lot of research for your book project. So it’s doable for you to write your book in six weeks, three months, or several years. Or you can work towards making the first draft of your book with 50,000 words within a month, as with the NaNoWriMo. Ultimately, perseverance is more important than speed. Because: Writing a book is a marathon and not a sprint.
The finishing touches: get feedback and revise the manuscript
Wow, soon done! The goal is within reach. You have finished writing your book. Now it’s time for the final spurt: get feedback and revise your manuscript. But that doesn’t mean you should hurry up. On the contrary! Take enough time for the correction phase and first a few days away from your text. So you start with a fresh look at what is written. Poorly corrected and edited books leave an unprofessional impression on the readership. Errors in the text interrupt the flow of reading. Some readers will therefore put your book aside. Further book purchases and recommendations? Improbable!
Letter rotation, missing commas, upper and lower case, word repetitions – you can fix many errors yourself. To do this, go through your text several times and pay attention to a different aspect of each round. Common spelling mistakes can be quickly corrected with the “Find and Replace” function of your word processor.
Then give your text to others to read and ask them for feedback. This is especially important for sections of text that you’re unsure about. To do this, choose people you trust and who offer honest, constructive criticism. Test readers can be found, for example, on platforms such as LovelyBooks.de. Also ask people who know how to write a book. Contact friendly authors or professional editors or proofreaders, for example, one of our book professionals. Look objectively at the points of criticism and do not take them too much to heart. You have written the book and you alone decide which points you want to accept and improve. Revise your text accordingly and proofread it one last time. Ready! You managed to write your own book.
How much does it cost to write a book?
Writing a book costs you one thing above all: time. Apart from that, of course, you need writing utensils, for example, paper and pens for notes, a computer with a writing program and an Internet connection for online research. Depending on how professionally you implement your book project and whether you want to use external support, such as editing, book typesetting, illustrations, or cover design, you will have to deal with further expenses. Such services are not absolutely necessary but should be recommended in the case of a planned publication if you cannot adequately take on these tasks yourself.
Planning your daily writing routine: Finding writing times and routine
Are you passionate about your book project and would like to start writing a book now? Before the time comes, you should prepare your writing time and consider participating in the Month for Authors – the NaNoWriMo – to motivate yourself additionally. Organize your writing days and develop your own routine. This is the only way you can work productively in the long term.
Finding time to write your book in addition to a full-time job, study, or family life isn’t easy, but it’s doable. That’s why it’s so important that you set fixed writing times. Look at your calendar planning for the next few weeks and block at least one free slot per day to work on your book project. Can’t find any right away? Then think about how you can specifically free up time. For example, get up an hour earlier, take advantage of the kids’ nap, or refrain from watching your favorite series on Netflix for the x-millionth time.
Whether it’s three hours or 30 minutes, every minute you write your book is better than none. Enter your writing times as an appointment in your calendar. This is much more binding than the idea of having to do something for the book project again tomorrow. But don’t worry, nothing is set in stone. If you notice that you cannot work creatively in the morning, postpone your writing appointment to another time of day.
You can work even more effectively if you set yourself an additional goal for each writing time. For example, do you want to reach a specific scene, a chapter, or a certain number of words? As an inexperienced writer, it is not so easy to assess the latter. Therefore, observe on the first days of writing how many words you type on average. Plan to increase this number from time to time until you are at a constant level. If you write 1,000 words a day, you have already completed a rough version with 30,000 words after 30 days – wow! Maybe you’ll even be brave enough to set a deadline for your first draft. Extra points when you tell someone about your deadline. That spurs you on!
Writing Place with Laptop Notebook Tablet Coffee PlantApart from fixed writing dates and goals, you need a good working atmosphere. Set up a writing room or at least a writing corner. A place where you can write your book undisturbed, which only you can use and leave everything there until the next time at the end of the writing session. Put everything you could need in your writing place: for example, your notebook full of ideas, paper, and pens, a bulletin board for creative overviews, headphones to isolate yourself from the world, as well as drinks, and serve food. The motto: Just don’t get up and waste valuable writing time searching. And if you do need variety, just try a different environment. How about your favorite café, a library, a park, your garden or on the beach? As long as you have your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or paper and pen with you, you can write your own book anywhere.
In short, think of the first few weeks as a trial period where you discover what times and in what environment it’s best to write your book. Adapt the circumstances to your needs and gradually develop your own writing routine in this way. Soon writing will be part of your everyday life!
How do I write a book on PC?
Fortunately, the days when writers wrote all the books with paper and pen or typed them on the typewriter are over. Nowadays, there is a wide range of software for writing books: programs and websites for brainstorming, collecting and organizing research materials, for plotting, writing, and designing books. Discover our overview with helpful tools for authors and – if you like to work mobile – apps for writing books. So that you can start writing your book right away, our Word styles are also available for free download.