by: Steve Manning
Volumes have been written to show you how to write a book, so you know I won’t be covering every step of writing a book in detail. For more information, look at the other articles in this series and for all the instruction you’ll ever need make sure you sign up for the email lessons at the bottom of this page.
First, decide whether your book will be fiction or non-fiction. Story, or how to.
Next, know how long your book will be. All non-fiction should be about 200 pages. 200 pages for fiction, too, unless you’re writing in a specific genre.
Each book with have 20 chapters and each chapter will be about 10 pages in length.
Nothing is carved in stone, these are just some basic guidelines.
For your work of fiction, you’ll need a plot. Only a fool will try to develop a plot from scratch. There are already so many plots out there that are ready to be used. Get hold of a bestseller in your genre that’s about eight years old. That’s the plot you’re going to use. Change the names, change the places, change the scenes. If it’s a futuristic science fiction, make it a period romance. If it’s a western, make it contemporary.
Remember, Gene Roddenbury sold Star Trek to the Studio by describing it as “Wagon Train among the stars.”
If you change everything except the plot, you’re not plagarising anything and there’s absolutely no problem with copyright.
Read the old bestseller, divide the plot into 20 chunks, and you’ve got your new story.
Rewrite that book as quickly as you can, but don’t look at the old bestseller any more. You already know what the story is. (And the market has already proven it’s a bestseller!)
For your non-fiction, remember, 20 chapters, 10 pages per chapter.
Read the non-fiction books on your topic out there already. There will be chapter topics common to all of them. These are the same chapters you should put in your book.
Additional chapters should include answers to the questions you’re always hearing from clients or others involved in the topic.
And make sure you include at least one chapter about your own very special and unique ‘technology’ for getting the benefits the book topic offers.
That ‘technology’ strategy will be found in another article in this series.
In both cases (fiction and non fiction) write as quickly as you can and complete your book immediately. The more deligently you work on your book before you start writing, the less work you’ll find involved in the actual writing of your book.
And there are no points awarded for the outstanding book you’re going to write in the future.
Even the mediocre book you’ve written has far more value than the blockbuster that has yet to find the page.
That brings me to editing your book.
Two points are essential for you here:
First, the faster you write, the more you will write the way you talk and that will give you a very sellable manuscript.
Next, you can’t perfect something until it exists. Don’t edit a single word until you’ve got the manuscript finished. If you find yourself going back over a line you’ve just written, STOP and return to the writing of your book. No one is going to be reading this work until you’re satisfied and so your time is much better spent just completing the book, rather than spending the next year perfecting the first chapter.
Want to know how to edit your book? No problem. You edit your manuscript by following the cardinal rule about editing… Omit Needless Words.
If you have the time, go though each line and look at each word. Can it be eliminated, consolidated, or minimized? Can the sentence be made shorter yet still maintain impact?
Take any sentgence at all. Remove the needless words, and you’ve increased the power of that writing at least 100%
Here’s the final element about your book you should know: It will never be perfect. There will always be flaws, pieces of story or information you should have included, suggestions by editors and agents that seem obvious when they’re made.
Don’t get bent out of shape about it. Make the corrections if you can make them. Live with the wonderful published book (and remain silent) if it’s already printed.
But whatever you do, start now, start today. Make it happen. There can truly be nothing more exciting or rewarding that getting that book written.