Welcome back! This is article number two in the series and all about writing a great book! It doesn’t have to be the greatest book every written, but it does have to appeal to a certain audience. Engage a certain reader just enough for them to write a good review, or recommend it to a friend!
The thing is, there are people who write, and then there are writers. It’s all well and good to say, “Oh, I’d love to write a book,” but not everything that gets self-published is good! So what does it take to be a good writer?
Today, we’ll avoid the hard-and-fast rules for what constitutes a good book but point out habits shared by successful authors:
First, Read a lot!
A good book is more then a bunch of words on a page. It’s a teacher and a guide. Read books that have been critically acclaimed, those popular in your genre. You’ll not only gain perspective but you’ll notice things like plot structure, characterization, formatting. Things that you can take back to your own draft.
Second, Have a Plan!
If you’ve written a novel, or your planing to write a novel, you should always have a plan. Whether it’s writing an outline, or devising a way to tackle that first draft, you’ll get further with a plan. So chart how one event leads into another, know your story in and out. It’ll help you keep track of your progress and keep you on task when your creativity is flowing!
Third, Know your Audience
Are you writing this book for children? The old man you see everyday at the post office carrying his dusty copy of a James Patterson novel? The woman that checks you out at the local grocery store that’s looking for meaning in this big world of ours? Knowing who your book is aimed at will help you take giant steps toward ending up with a good book! So find someone in your life that NEEDS to read your book, and write (or rewrite) it for them!
Fourth, Give Yourself a Deadline
Don’t just go with the flow, pulling up pages when you have a moment, letting it sit for days on end. I’m not saying rush through; I’m merely suggesting you give your book the time it deserves. That you set goals and intentions from the very start, even if they are a little loose or small. Like edit 500 words a day, one chapter a day. If you haven’t yet begun, write for 20 minutes everyday!
Your homework today is simple: write something. Anything.
Your homework for the rest of your career as a writer: write everyday!
It doesn’t have to be a project, or even this book to count as writing. Every idea we explore, whether it’s a brief chatter that never gets finished or that tiny character descriptions that turns into a whole novel, teaches us something about our own writing. You learn a new phrasing, a new way of seeing or describing, a new personality trait that you didn’t know was waiting to be put to paper. Freeing your inner writer is the ONLY step to worthwhile book!
That’s it for this one! In the next article we’ll dive into the meat and potatoes: editing.
An excellent book for sharpening your writing skills comes from the master himself. Enjoy On Writing by Stephen King!