How to Start Your Book
You know, I feel like a right idiot, coming out here and talking about how to write a book. After all, I’ve only written one and the bloody thing hasn’t been published yet!
You have all fallen into my trap!
…Okay, it’s a shitty trap. Don’t blame me! I haven’t figured out how to put hypnotism in text yet.
You see, recently I was once again part of a collaboration to create a book, only this time was a bit different. I was there as an editor, and as someone who knew something about writing.
I know, it’s surreal to me, too. But as we spoke, I realized I actually DO know something about the subject!
Our other editor, Andreah, spoke about one method of writing, and I talked about the other.
Today, I’m here to go over both of them, as well as a few ways to get your words out if writing isn’t your deal.
A goal without a plan is just a wish – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Plotting a book is organized. Tidy. Neat.
Nah, fuck that! Who do I think I’m kidding?
Plotting involves deciding ahead of time what’s happening and where. It involves setting up chapters and jotting down notes about what happens in each chapter.
From what I’ve been told, it’s usually papers all over the place, half a dozen notebooks, and there’s probably a map involved.
But! What it means is that you get to a chapter and you already know what will be in it. You just have to figure out the details.
Now, plotting works great for other work, too, like blog posts and articles. For those, you simply pick a few main points you want to touch on, with maybe some sub-points. Each point goes under its own heading, and ta-DAA! You have your article.
Write down everything that happens in the story, and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along. – Neil Gaiman
Pantsing a book is a noble tradition that has spanned centuries.
Okay, I’m full of shit.
Pantsing is where you have a vague idea of what your beginning is, and an even vaguer idea of the end. Then, starting at point A you proceed to spit words onto the page and hope it makes some sense.
This is my method for everything. When I started writing this blog post, I had the barest idea what would be in here, and I only knew that because of the title.
When I began my book, I had a single scene from somewhere down the line. But when I decided to sit down and actually write it to get it out of my head, I figured I’d do things right and start at the beginning.
So far, I’ve got a book that will be published later this year and another one on my computer using the pants method.
I’m not sure how much revision and editing is involved with outlining, but pantsing does require a fair bit of editing. I’d have times where I’d look at a section and just sit there, sobbing into my keyboard, asking myself one question, over and over.
“What the fuck am I talking about?”
So Mr. Gaiman’s advice or writing came at an excellent time in my life, and I have used it well, I hope.
It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly. – CJ Cherryh
The first draft of anything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway
Editing is crucial to everything. I mean that.
The first draft of my book doesn’t look a damn thing like what I sent to my editor, and what I publish will probably be a hell of a lot different to what I sent him.
I literally printed out my first manuscript, opened a blank document, and started from the bloody beginning. And when you read my book, all I can say is Your Welcome, because the first draft was absolute shit.
And that’s content and developmental editing.
There’s a whole slew of different types of editing out there, you know. The last one I did before handing it to my editor was copy editing. I printed that sucker out and went over it with a pen, correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax. All that fun shit.
The crazy thing is that I have been over that manuscript so many times I’ve lost count, but every time I look at it I find another small error. I’m too close to really find anything now, which I why I’ve hired an editor for the final round.
The aim is to publish in May or June, so keep an eye out, yeah?
If writing really isn’t your thing but you still need to get words onto paper, try talking. You could record yourself and then transcribe it later.
I’ve heard about programs that allow you to speak into a microphone and it transcribes it as you go, but that method will definitely require editing. It’s kind of like your speech to text option when you’re sending a text.
Personally, I couldn’t do it.
Finally, you may decide to hire a ghostwriter. This is a person who actually enjoys writing. Usually, they’d interview you, figure out what you want, and proceed to write it down.
Their aim is to write it as you would. They'll do intensive research to learn everything they can about you and the story you want told, as well as your way of speaking. So, if you have any particular slang words you use, for example.
There you have it, folks!
We have all learned a little something today, so my evil plan has worked!
Unfortunately, my attempts to implant hypnosis in text are still a work in progress, so you’ll probably ignore my request to comment, share, and work with me.
Fine! Ignore me…
But if you give me some attention, I’ll love you! Or at least, think of you fondly :)