Useful Tips

How to write a book? Beginner's Guide


It seems that only someone very special can write a book. How do people do this? Of course, to create your work, you need considerable knowledge, and remarkable imagination, and willpower, perseverance, and, of course, the ability to express your thoughts on paper. If you have all this, it's time to release a bestseller. And we will give some tips to help you write your book.

What to write about

Think about why and why you want to write a book. What to share with readers, what to tell, what to push? However, such an answer is also appropriate: "I want to write a book to become famous."

If you are the author of specialized or business literature, find a topic that captivates you, in which you understand or can attract experts to help.

You can collect in the book the wisdom of many people or the advice that your parents gave you and that helped you succeed in life. You can write about your life experience and professional path or describe the biography of famous personalities.

Or maybe you have long wanted to tell people about fictional worlds and their heroes, discover the fantasy world of the past, present or future? These are also great topics for a book that is sure to find its reader.

It doesn’t matter if it’s prose, verses or non-fixation, one piece of advice: get started!

Make a plan or sketch a plot

The plan of the book or the plot, if you conceived a work of art, will help you move forward in writing more easily and ultimately create a complete text.

The plan may look different: successive points reminiscent of the usual contents of a book, a map of thoughts, or simply a sequence of events. If you are not yet ready to make a plan, write down all the ideas that are swarming in your head on separate cards, and then try to put them together in a single picture.

Also, short references describing the key features and characteristics of the main characters of the work may be useful to you. Such a card index will make the characters more lively and show the characters more clearly.

How to start writing a book

Start no matter what. Little time? There is no suitable place to retire? Thoughts get confused, and you don’t understand what the first chapter will be? Leave these excuses and sit down at any table, call it workers and start writing.

Many authors write nonlinearly: they start from the middle, from the end, jump from thought to thought. This technique allows you to maintain a degree of interest and work efficiency. Write what is written, and only then you will arrange the chapters in the correct order, frame them with an introduction and conclusion.

Think it over.

So, you decided to write a book, overwhelmed with enthusiasm, but do not know yet which side to approach. Right now, it's time to think things over.

Firstly, I do not advise you to undertake writing a novel, if you have not written at least five or six stories. After all, it is only at first glance very simple - sit down at the computer and write the chapter after chapter. In practice, creativity is hard and tedious work, which requires, in addition to perseverance, specific training, knowledge of the many subtleties and patterns that I try to comprehensively cover in the framework of the blog “Literary workshop". Therefore, if you sit down to write a novel without any experience working on at least stories, you will most likely fail, and the matter will not be completed. Therefore, before writing a novel, I recommend practicing and getting a hand on the stories. The principles of building work on small prose on the blog are the article "How to write a story? Beginner's Guide". I strongly recommend that you read this manual, especially since many of its points perfectly complement today's publication.

Step 1: “Practice the stories.”

Secondly, if you still decide to write a novel, you must clearly determine for yourself what it will be about and what you want to convey to the reader with its help. Until a clear understanding of these issues arises in one’s head, one cannot write a book. I think you will agree with me that any large literary work should carry an idea, and it is better, of course, if this idea stands out against the general background. And even if you decide to write a book based on the events of your own life, the main idea should still be present in it. Nowhere without her.

Step 2: "Decide on an idea."

Be patient.

Once you have strengthened your desire to write a book and consider its main idea, proceed to the preparation stage. It is likely that the preparation will stretch for several months. This should not confuse or excite you. Believe me, it should be so. Personally, I highly recommend that you do not start writing the text before the preparatory phase is completed, otherwise you will most likely have to rewrite your book in whole or in part. And to cut and redraw an already finished text is psychologically very unpleasant.

So, the preparation stage consists primarily in drawing up a general plan of the novel. This process is very similar to writing a story plan (which was discussed in the article “How to write a plan of a literary work?"), But much deeper and longer. Be prepared for the fact that you have to process huge amounts of information, come up with several dozen names and descriptions, pick up a whole list of geographical names for your story.

Briefly indicate those items that should contain a general plan:

  • The synopsis of the novel,
  • Cards of the main characters, including names, descriptions of appearance and clothes, psychological portraits, general and local goals for each character. For more details on how to do this, read the article “How to make a detailed character card?»,
  • Location cards. Here you need to describe the main places in which events will take place, describe the situation, highlight the main details,
  • A brief and consistent description of all the events of the story, broken down into chapters.

In addition to the above, other elements may appear in the plan. For example, if the book’s action takes place in a fantasy world in which the characters are actively moving, then most likely you will have to draw it a map. If the narrative has a wide time frame or a rich background, then you may need event Ribbon. It indicates the dates and brief descriptions of important events of the novel, or occurring before the beginning of the narrative. In general, drawing up a plan is the same creative activity, often even more interesting than writing or working with text, so you need to approach it creatively and with pleasure. Remember that the time and effort spent in the preparatory phase will more than pay off later.

Step 3: "Make a general plan of the novel."

First write, then edit

“Write drunk, edit sober,” Ernest Hemingway advised. Is it worth it to get alcohol into the writing process - everyone’s personal decision, but the truth is that you must first write, surrendering completely to the rush and plunging into a state of flow, and after a while return to the written and edited. Trying to grind the text during the writing process, you exit the flow state, lose thought and non-standard momentum. But it’s much more efficient to write 10 thousand characters of an “unkempt” text than 3-4 thousand verified and balanced ones.

How not to be distracted

As much as possible, create ideal conditions for writing a book. What helps you write? Silence, white noise, classical music? Do everything in your power to ensure perfect conditions for yourself.

Get a ritual for yourself. For example, Jack Kerouac lit a candle before starting work, and when he finished writing, he blew it out. A lit candle was a signal to the brain - time to create. Create your own ritual that will set you up for work: start at the same time or listen to your favorite piece of music before work.

How not to abandon writing a book

Make a public statement. Tell your friends, relatives or subscribers in social networks that you started writing a book and plan to finish it by such a deadline. Public commitments will not let you relax.

Write every day. Whatever happens, no matter what your mood, write at least 20-30 minutes daily. Try not to break the chain. If at first the muse wanders somewhere during your work, be persistent. Continue writing, plotting, or collecting materials. Over time, the muse will begin to arrive on time.

The volume of many books is not more than 30 thousand words. If in half an hour you have time to write 150 words, then 30 thousand words will be written in just over 12 standard working days.

How to write is interesting

More stories! People love stories from personal experience, they trust them. Be a good storyteller.

Avoid cliches, persistent expressions and boring official language. Do not pile complicated words into famously twisted designs. Invent your own images and metaphors to captivate the reader with the freshness of your style. Write simple sentences to make the book easy to read. Create and develop your own recognizable style: rhythm, language, visual means.

Where to look for inspiration

But you do not need it. True. Think of writing a book as work. It can be easy and pleasant, and sometimes difficult and tedious, but it’s a job, and you have to do it if you want (substitute the right one) to convey your ideas, images and stories to the audience, create a real bestseller, earn money, become a famous author and create further.

If you write only when you have inspiration, this process may drag on for years, or it may not end at all.

However, you can spur your brain to creativity a little. Try to walk more. They say legs are wheels of thoughts. For many writers, ideas came precisely during walks in the fresh air. Chat with people, listen to music, have breakfast in your favorite cafe. Or maybe inspiration comes when you do some housework or gardening?

And watch the world around him, he so often throws up stories and plots, you just need to manage to catch them. Keep a small notebook or smartphone on hand to capture the thoughts, observations, ideas that have visited you. If you write down everything that happens around you, very soon you will type material into several books.

We are sure that they inspired you to finally take up writing a book. Best of luck and look forward to your masterpiece!

Consistent work on each chapter.

After you have your general plan for the book ready, start making plans for each chapter. If a lot of chapters are planned (more than ten), then it’s wise to start writing directly after completing the next plan — this will make things more fun. However, do not forget that sitting down for writing without a ready-made general plan is extremely undesirable.

In the plan of each chapter you enter:

  • Synopsis of the chapter,
  • Cards of actors
  • Chapter location cards,
  • A brief and consistent description of all the events in the chapter, divided into scenes.

You can add some more materials to taste. If, for example, you carefully work on the psychological component, you can note the mood swings of the characters in the course of the chapter, noting how it was before and what it became after the events. It is also sometimes useful to throw a small background to the chapter: to identify for yourself those events that do not fall into the book, but indirectly affect what is happening.

In general, having trained in the first few chapters, you will already clearly define for yourself the range of necessary elements of the plan and will work on them.

Step 4: “Make a detailed plan for each chapter.”

After completing the preparatory phase, you can safely begin writing.

The key to writing a novel is consistency and perseverance. This work is for the diligent and purposeful. Sometimes work through "I do not want", almost always work without inspiration. Personally, I don’t know if it’s possible, in principle, to write a book of, say, four hundred pages with only one inspiration? I doubt it very much. So gather your will into a fist and get ready for a real test of creativity. I don’t want to scare, but most likely you will have such moments when you want to abandon everything and forget when there is not a single fresh thought in your head. You need to go through all this, all this must be courageously overcome for the final positive result. You are not the only one, everyone has difficulties in their work.

I note that it is extremely undesirable to allow long pauses in writing (more than 4-5 days). Of course, sometimes a short rest is necessary, but if the breaks are greatly delayed, you can lose interest in the venture. Remember the slogan "Not a day without a line"And try to write daily.

I highlight two approaches to writing texts:

  • The first is speed writing, and his goal is to finish the work as quickly as possible. The main work, therefore, is transferred to the next stage - editing. In it, the necessary details are added to the text, errors are corrected, grinding is performed. Personally, I used this method for a long time in my practice, since often external factors (home, noise, calls, TV, etc.) did not allow me to concentrate properly while writing. The minus of this approach is obvious: editing and straightening the text is sometimes much more difficult than writing “as it should” from the very beginning.
  • The second approach focuses on thoughtful work on each phraseover each paragraph. In this case, the process itself is very slow, the author ponders each sentence for a long time, often corrects pieces of text right at the time of writing. This greatly simplifies subsequent editing, since the text has in fact already undergone primary processing. I note that such an approach requires a calm atmosphere and full focus on writing.

You are free to use any of these approaches, or combine them. Over time, you will develop your own writing rhythm, convenient for you.

Naturally, the writing process includes many diverse subtleties: for example, the struggle with cliches and parasitic words, the construction of descriptions and dialogs, the work with means of artistic expression and much, much more. Of course, it is not possible to cover these issues in the framework of this article, otherwise it would have turned into a full-fledged book. To each of them I devote separate articles of the blog “Literary workshop", So I recommend subscribing to updates to always be in the know about the release of fresh materials.

Step 5: “Write persistently and persistently. Desirable every day. "

Editing and debugging.

The final stage, which, in principle, can last indefinitely. Editing consists in re-reading the text repeatedly and correcting the errors found, polishing the formulations, combating cliches and parasitic words.

What does that require?

First, you need to know in person those flaws that we are going to correct. These include various kinds of clericalism, stamps, repetitions, tautologies. Read more about each of these shortcomings in the following articles of the Literary Workshop blog or in specialized literature.

Secondly, knowledge of spelling and punctuation will not be superfluous. Because mistakes and misplaced punctuation marks seriously spoil the impression of the text. In our age of computer technology and the Internet, there are many spell-checking programs, but they are not always able to handle the fiction text, and this does not exempt them from studying the rules of their native language. Therefore, it will not be superfluous to refresh your knowledge of the Russian language.

Thirdly, it is important to outline how the editing process will go. The main options that I use are as follows:

  • Reading text to yourself from the monitor screen. The most standard method is to read and correct the text multiple times. The principle "the bigger, the better", And ideally you need to finish editing when there is nothing more to fix. However, in practice, few people have the patience to make more than a dozen reads, especially if the thing turned out to be voluminous.
  • Reading text out loud from a monitor screen. Helps to correct the rhythm and melody of the written. Very often, beginning writers do not pay attention to the sound of the text: for example, they do not notice the accumulation of consonants at the junction of two words (something like “master in fear"). But when the text is read aloud, such places immediately pop up - the smoothness of speech on them is broken. Naturally, such defects must be corrected. I will definitely tell you more about phonetic flaws in one of the following articles.
  • Reading text to myself from paper. Surprisingly, as soon as the text appears on paper, it becomes completely different from the one that we so long and stubbornly corrected on the computer screen. Shortcomings immediately catch my eye. Here we also need to correct them! I have long discovered this technique for myself and now use it sporadically. Recommend!
  • Check for repetitions and tautologies using the “New Look” program. Это приложение помогает в проверке написанного, когда собственный глаз уже не в силах выловить недочеты.The New Look program is good at finding repetitions, root words and tautologies that are hard to find on your own.
  • Correction of errors and typos found by critics. Usually, after the author has gone through all the steps (or maybe circles?) Of editing, you should give the manuscript to a knowledgeable person so that, after reading, he can point out errors. Many writers have a so-called “home critic” - a close relative or friend who is entrusted with the right to be the first to read a new work. And this, too, is undoubtedly part of the editing, and sometimes, if the critic is sufficiently competent and sophisticated in literary issues, it can bring considerable benefit to the fresh work.

Step 6: “Edit the written text.”

Here is a brief and complete way of writing a book. Of course, it is long and thorny, but I think the final result is worth the effort. I wish you good luck in your endeavors and more finished works.

Of course, within the framework of one article it is impossible to cover in detail all the questions concerning the work on the novel. A very important competent study of the plot (blog section "Plot power") and characters (you can start with the article"Character work"). For authors of more sophisticated and experienced blog there is an article about secrets of preparing to write a book. I highly recommend it for review.

If you liked this article, subscribe to the blog "Literary workshop"To always be in the know about new interesting articles about the secrets of writing. See you soon!

1. “The Word Alive and Dead,” Nora Gal

What will the book give you. After reading, you can easily choose the right words, feel the native language on an intuitive level, and you can also bypass autopilot tautologies and cliches.

Description. Nora Gal is an almost unattainable standard. She became the idol of millions of writers, editors and translators. In his book, “The Word of the Living and the Dead,” the Soviet literary icon examines the typical mistakes of beginners and professional authors using concrete examples.

Nora Gal advocates maintaining the purity of the Russian language, eradicating borrowed words and phrases in the texts. I will not argue, periodically she goes too far, as, for example, with the adaptation of proper names. However, in the number of useful tips, minor controversial points dissolve without a trace.

2. "Living as life", Korney Chukovsky

What will the book give you. It will help to develop a sense of proportion and to form an excellent literary taste. It will repel any desire to use ossified linguistic forms.

Description. Although the book-reflection of Korney Chukovsky “Living as Life” was first published back in 1962, it still has not lost its relevance. A child writer in the analysis of the problems of Russian literature comes to the conclusion that the lion's share of them arises due to the dominance of bureaucratic turns. Chancellors are especially dangerous when targeting a young reader.

3. "High art", Korney Chukovsky

What will the book give you. High Art will be of help to all translators without exception. The author in a humorous form gives valuable advice to avoid annoying oversights and to keep the emotional message of the original unchanged.

Description. As such, the book does not have a logical structure, but it is not positioned as a classical textbook. There are separate sections on vocabulary, rhythm and syntax. The specifics of translation, both prose and poems, are examined in detail. The blunders of famous translators are ridiculously incredibly ridiculed, as well as examples of good and bad adaptations.

4. “How to write books,” Stephen King

What will the book give you. Stephen King will tell you what skills you need to develop in order for your works to become bestsellers and enter the gold fund of the genre.

Description. The king of horrors is one of the most productive writers. Its daily rate is 2000 words. He works every day, despite his physical condition and the presence of inspiration. An interesting fact is that King created some of the most popular works while intoxicated. Meter admits that he does not remember at all how he wrote “Tomminoker”, “Misery” and “It”.

A responsible approach distinguishes a professional from an amateur. The author calls to treat writing as a work and not be afraid to fix it. Stephen King, without a shadow of sarcasm, says that only through tireless work and constant correction of one’s own mistakes can one learn something new, learn the weaknesses and strengths of his talent. He talks about the importance of prioritization. For example, creating an atmosphere is much more important than carefully drawing the appearance of the characters, although they should not be forgotten.

5. “How to write well,” William Zinser

What will the book give you. Following the advice of William Zinser, you will gain independence from the genre and will be able to write on any topic without much difficulty. The author gives practical methods that allow you to come close to perfection.

Description. The book "How to write well" is fundamentally different from other similar manuals. She is completely devoid of romanticism and the winged inserts introduced "for the sake of greater literature." William Zinser's approach to writing texts is quite pragmatic. The author touches on the painful topic of bureaucratic thought, describes techniques for improving readability and improving perception. Zinser conjures to refuse to belittle the reader and recommends giving clarifications, rather than sprinkling terminology.

6. “50 Techniques for Writing,” Roy Clark

What will the book give you. It will help to find a unique author's style, adequately perceive to accept criticism and polish craftsmanship to a copper shine.

Description Each section has a small volume, the maximum size does not exceed 850-900 words. Water and lyrical digressions are completely absent. At the beginning there is a statement of a specific problem, and as you read the text, you already understand how to solve it. Thanks to laconicism, information is written to the subcortex instantly. After each chapter, a workshop is designed to better understand the material covered.

7. "School of literary skill", Jürgen Wolf

What will the book give you. You will learn about all the stages of creating a literary work, starting from the origin of an idea and ending with publication and promotion. Learn to build narratives in an interesting and logical way, to keep the reader's attention and to overcome the obstacles that arise on the path to worldwide recognition.

Description. Jürgen Wolf focuses on commercial success. From the height of the past years and accumulated experience, he gives the characteristics of the main categories of readers. It is important not only to write good books, but also to select topics taking into account the interests of the target audience. The writer must acquire the skill of selling his talent at the best prices, without disdaining appearances on television and advertising in the media.

8. “News online journalism”, Alexander Amzin

What will the book give you. You will learn how to write catchy headlines, structure Internet content, learn how to work with blogs and monitor press service messages.

Description. The good news is from the headline. The same statement is true for all content published on the open spaces of the network. The reader needs to be as interested as possible so that he clicks the link. There are many pages devoted to the issue of attracting the attention of an audience. The recent trends dominating in the field of news journalism are also considered.

9. “Zen in the Art of Writing Books,” Ray Bradbury

What will the book give you. You will understand how the plot is born, what is needed for the creation of the plan and how to curb the wayward Muse.

Description. From the arguments of Ray Bradbury about the nature of creativity, you can draw a lot of useful information. The author will share with the reader exactly how his or her works were created. He will describe in detail his ways of dealing with a lack of inspiration. The highlight of the book "Zen in the art of writing books" in its simple syllable. Sometimes it seems as if you are sitting in a cozy kitchenette and drinking tea in the company of a famous science fiction writer.

10. "Handbook of spelling and literary editing" and "Universal Handbook of the Russian language. Spelling. Punctuation. Practical stylistics ”, Dietmar Rosenthal

What will the book give you. You will receive comprehensive answers to all questions related to punctuation, spelling, style. You will understand how boring it is to make edits to fiction and how to bring to mind even the most disgusting text.

Description. Dietmar Rosenthal's directories should be desktop guides for every self-respecting writer. You must keep them at the head of the bed and reread them before going to bed, like the Bible.

The books in this collection will be guiding stars illuminating the thorny path to literary fame. I sincerely hope that they will help you become a notch and achieve amazing progress in your chosen field of activity.