5 Steps to Beginning a Fiction Book

I was knee-deep in the final edits for my forthcoming book The Hope of Shridula, book 2 of the Blessings in India trilogy, when I got a desperate email from a new writer I met at a writers’ conference last month.  In capital letters, all bolded in red, she virtually yelled, “HELP!   AN EDITOR IS INTERESTED IN MY BOOK IDEA.  HOW DO I WRITE IT?”

Yes. Well.  Writing the book is an important detail, isn’t it? 

Many paths can lead to a well-written book. My way is my way, but it’s certainly not the only way.  That said, here are my five steps to get you started.

  1. Decide on your genre.  Will it be a romance?  Adventure?  Mystery?  Historical?  Or perhaps a combination: Historical romance, or romantic suspense.  Hopefully, it will be a genre you read and, therefore, one with which you are familiar!
  2. Develop your plot. Ask yourself the following questions: Who is my main character and what problem is she/he going to face? How will she/he overcome that problem? This is the conflict of your story.  This is what will build suspense and keep your readers interested.  Write out a synopsis, or overview, of your plot.
  3. Decide how you want to write your book. Do you want to use first person to narrate your story or do you want it to be third person? (“I walked down the railroad tracks that morning…” versus “Jason walked down the railroad tracks that morning…”) What is the setting for your story?  What is the mood or tone?
  4. Build a chapter-by-chapter outline from your plot synopsis.  This will be your road map for the book.  The more detailed this is, the easier it will be for you to write your book. Start with a beginning that will immediately hook your readers. Keep the pressure coming on your main character.  You can always change things as you write, of course.  But this road map will help keep you on track.
  5. Give your novel a satisfying ending.  It doesn’t have to be happy—though upbeat and hopeful are always good—but your readers have to feel the book was worth the time they invested in it.  And the story question you posed at the beginning (see step #2) must be answered.

Okay!  You are on your way! 

 “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

~Toni Morrison~


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