How to write a book

When writing a book, you need to start with these little tiny things called letters. You take those letters and make words, the words add up to sentences, which turn into paragraphs, and then scenes, then chapters, and finally you find you have a complete book. Oh, you need things like plot and characters, and having a good understanding of craft helps, but when it all boils down, what is really important is sitting down in front of the keyboard and tapping a key to create a letter. And then another. And another.

Okay, that is rather tongue in cheek, but sometimes I do have to remind myself that writing is contingent upon, you know, writing. To write a book you have to sit down and put words on a page. To edit a book you have read and rewrite those words. Seems easy enough, and yet I’ve been sitting at my keyboard staring at my pages for two days. I’m trying to fix a plot gone askew, and while, yes, a certain amount of planning and replotting is required, I’ve crossed the point where I should be thinking about it and moved into the territory where I should be doing it.

It’s time to make those letters work for me.

If you’re stuck or floundering in your writing; if you’ve been avoiding your story; it’s time to get back to work. Remember, a book is built one letter at a time. You can handle a little letter, right?

3 Responses to “How to write a book”

  1. 1 Glenna Fairbanks
    June 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    OK, if you’ve been sitting for two days and you still have a/the problem it is time to define THE problem. Have you edited/re-edited what you have already written to such an extent that you have screwed up the plot you started with – or – was the plot too weak to sustain the story in the first place? Have you edited/re-edited the story into such a corner the original plot will no longer work (something like painting yourself into a corner)? Once you have diagnosed which problem you have, you will know where to begin – where you need to go back in essence to start writing. Maybe the plot is there but your character(s) need to be beefed up, introduced sooner/later or their motive more clearly defined, etc. Or – maybe you need to walk away from this story for a while. Start on something else and come back later with a clearer, more objective mind. Because, perhaps right now, you are trying to force a large knot through a small hole and it just won’t fit.

  2. June 29, 2010 at 4:28 am

    I tell myself this every day. And then I spend a few hours surfing writing forums and leaving blog comments instead.

    It’s not my fault. If people would just write more boring blog posts, I’d be outselling J.K. Rowling.

    Okay, maybe I’m just lazy. 😦

  3. July 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Good questions and suggestions, Glenna.

    LOL, Atsiko. The net is a dangerous and enticing place. I’m currently ignoring the backlog of blogs in my RSS feed reader. I’m sure I’ll break soon . . .

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