How to Write a Book in 2021: Simple Step-by-Step Guide

Most of us have read books of some kind or the other. And some of us wish that we too could write books. If you’re one such a person who wants to really write a book, continue reading.

How to write a book

“If a story is in you, it’s got to come out,” says William Faulkner, a highly celebrated American author and Nobel Prize winner. With this single sentence, William Faulkner actually encourages everyone to write a book. Because, all of us have some story to tell.

If you believe that writing a book is all about making money or getting famous, I suggest you don’t read this article any further. Because writing books isn’t something that’s done to get rich and famous, as you might falsely believe.

There’re several other reasons to write a book. And good ones too.

Reasons to Write a Book

Brian Tracy, who’s a popular motivational speaker and self-development author from America actually encourages everyone to write a book. That’s because it helps others and yourself in several ways.

Here’re a summary of the top four reasons why Brian Tracy encourages everyone to write.

  1. Sharing your message with others: Here, Brian Tracy rightly points out that we can inspire others with our stories.
  2. Writing a book boosts your credibility: Writing a book helps you in self-branding and establishes you as an expert in some field.
  3. You’ll make a contribution to the world: Your knowledge could help others lead a better life.
  4. It’s a skill you can master: And finally, writing is a skill that anyone can master with some efforts, says Brian Tracy.

While money isn’t the reason for writing a book, you could make some if your works inspire people. For example, JK Rowling, creator and author of the legendary Harry Potter rose from dithering poverty to a millionaire and philanthropist because she put her ideas on paper. And her ideas of a fictional world, were an instant hit.

Furthermore, several authors have also won the Nobel Prize in Literature for their works. In fact, the Nobel Foundation of Sweden and related organizations.

Writing books can also win you a Pulitzer Prize, the highest accolade for authors as well as the Booker Prize for book writers.

Unfortunately, most people don’t get even as far as penning their ideas due to several reasons.

Before I tell you how to write a book, it’s better to understand why most people don’t write despite having a fabulous story to tell.

Read: How to make money writing your own eBooks

Reasons People Don’t Write Books

Writing a book isn’t about making money or getting rich and famous. It’s about sharing your story and contributing to the world. Every famous author in this world became rich because their books help the society in some or the other way. Their objectives to write was not money or fame.

However, most people don’t write for these main reasons.

  • Lack of time: This is the biggest myth that leads people to believe they don’t have time to pen their thoughts or knowledge.
  • Writer’s Block: This is a strange syndrome that affects writers when they find they can’t proceed further with writing. However, some people suffer it even before they get down to writing.
  • Lack of Confidence: Another factor that prevents people from writing books is diffidence. They doubt own writing skills or suspect their story isn’t good enough.
  • Fear of Ridicule: People that fear others would laugh at their thoughts are generally scared of putting them down in words. Hence, they never get about to write a book.
  • Shortage of Money: Another myth that you might believe in is that writing and publishing a book costs money. That’s untrue. In fact, there’re several publishers that would be willing to consider printing your book for only part of the royalties you get. And self-publishing platforms such as Kindle Desktop Publishing are also available free online nowadays.

Read: How Much Money Do Authors Make Per Book?

Should any of these reasons be a hindrance to writing a book, there’re ways and means to overcome them. Generally, these would go away in time. Yet I’ll be discussing how to overcome these hurdles later I this article.

Therefore, here’s how to write a book, complete with tips. 

How to Write a Book?

Actually, writing a book is much simpler than you could imagine. 

But there’s a condition: your objective shouldn’t be getting rich and famous. That’s because books written purely with the intention of making money never make it to anywhere, except maybe an editor’s desk.

Secondly, your book might not sell at all, which could crash all your dreams of striking it rich or even any claim to fame.

Therefore, if you have a genuine story- fact or fiction- or would love to share personal experience or even knowledge about any subject, here’re the best tips on how to write a book.

Preparing to Write a Book

Preparing to write actually spells the success or failure of books. In fact, prior mental and physical preparation actually help you to write a superb book. I would consider this preparation to be the single most important part to writing.

Organize Your Thoughts

Organizing your thoughts is the single most important tip that I can provide if you truly wish to write a book. That’s because starting to write anything is difficult- regardless whether it’s a simple letter or email or even an article. Generally, most people find it difficult to find opening lines.

By organizing your thoughts, it’s possible to find how to want to start a book. Also, organizing thoughts helps in going about the writing systematically. Here’s something to bear in mind: every book is first written in the mind or mentally before the author begins putting them in words on paper, typewriter or nowadays, a computer.

Select Your Book Genre

book genre

Once your thoughts are organized, the second thing to do is find out which genre your book fits in. This is also very important because the genre decides its market positioning and can affect popularity. It helps publishers to correctly identify the target readers and pricing. 

As beginner, it’s important to know the top 10 genres that’re most popular.

  • Action & Adventure
  • Science Fiction
  • Speculative Fiction (personal or imaginary)
  • Suspense & Thriller
  • Romance
  • Mystery & Crime
  • Travelogue
  • Educational 
  • Children Stories
  • Spiritual

Not as a rule, but most bestseller books come from these genres. Therefore, you’ll have to choose where your particular story or book fits in before deciding to write.

Start Taking Notes

writing notes

Yes, that’s right. You need to start taking notes at any time of the day. That’s because when you decide on writing a book, ideas will keep springing up anytime. You might forget that specific idea or situation later. Taking notes helps you to remember your thoughts and ideas while actually writing a book.

Here it’s important to remember that not all ideas or notes you make are going to make it to the book. That’s because some may not have any connections with your theme or genre or storyline.

And if you’re writing educational books, taking notes can help theorize a new concept or idea that might someday prove revolutionary to the world.

Decide Your Book Writing Schedule

writing schedule

A very common reason that people don’t write book despite having a fabulous story is shortage of time. This is quite understandable. You might be having a business or job and also need to spend quality time with family and friends.

And there’re household chores to attend while the office work might leave you tired leading to lack of creativity as well as enthusiasm to write.

Unless you’re one of those lucky ones that can work on a book anytime, I would suggest you to create a writing schedule. You could give just an hour or two from your day to writing a book.

I recommend shorter time to write because human attention span, whether reading or writing, doesn’t span longer than 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Do not overwork on writing a book, because that affects your creativity and chain of thoughts. And fuddled thinking is of no use while writing a book.

Making a schedule might not sound so easy. That’s because a day could be filled with hectic activity. And at the end of it, you might just wish to crash in the bed, exhausted.

Therefore, go about it realistically. Fixing a rigid schedule like the one we require for working from home isn’t any good.

If you believe that writing on weekends on holidays or anytime is better, don’t create a schedule at all. Instead, just go about it whenever you’re in the right mood. Your mood decides the quality of writing.

Find that Special Place

book writing place

A special or specific place that brings out the best in you is the best for writing a book too. It could be quiet corner at home or a seat at some restaurant or bar or maybe even a table at you club. Some writers love to write outdoors such as parks, while traveling on public transport or even own garden. 

If you’re among some people in whom the best comes out at certain places, check if it would help you write a book too. At the same time, consider weather and costs. A seat at a restaurant or bar would cost some money while staying outdoors during chill winters isn’t the most comfortable thing on Earth.

While some writer love quiet and lonely places, the best in others comes out when there’re lots of people or a noisy crowd around a place.

Find out which is this special place. And if you don’t have any such location, that’s fine too. Some of the best books have come from authors that merely scribbled their thoughts on a piece of paper and later compiled them as a book.

Harry Potter written by JK Rowling is one such modern day example. The author made notes on bits of paper during train journeys, from which the legendary wizard was born.

Essentials to Write a Book

Once you’re mentally and physically prepared to write a book, the next and most obvious thing to do is getting down to write one. This can prove to be trickier than the preparations. Because, it requires some effort and though to actually begin doing something like writing. These simple steps should help.

Create Your Story Characters

Story Characters

Unless you’re writing an educational or spiritual book or travelogue, characters are an essential part of every story. Therefore, start creating character that match your story.

These would be women, men and also children. Like every human, these characters should also have strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, age, skills and flaws, looks, job or business and some history.

If you’re writing own story, cast yourself as the character by detailing all your traits as well as those other real-world persons that would feature in the story. 

And your characters also need real-world names, unless yours is a sci-fi book such as Star Wars where players came with esoteric names such as R2D2 and Darth Vader, among others. 

However, real-life books require real life names. One example I can give is of Agatha Christie, the famous female author from the UK who wrote some 66 detective novels. Her stories revolve around Hercules Poirot, a fictional French detective and Jane Marple or Miss Marple, an amateur sleuth. 

Similarly, detective novel writer Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle created the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. John H. Watson. Actually, Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle uses his own characteristics to create Sherlock Holmes while those of his physician friend appear in the character, Dr. Watson.

Timeline Your Story

story Timeline

This simply means deciding the year or era where your story belongs. Broadly speaking, you can select an era from the past or use the present one. If you’re writing something futuristic, then select a date that’s distant from our own time.

For example, Jules Verne, the noted sci-fi writer from France used the present era while writing bestsellers such as ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ and ‘Around the World in 80 Days’.

Though his ideas were futuristic, people could relate with these because they deftly blended the present with future.

Educational, spiritual books and travelogues don’t require a timeline. However, while writing own story, always use the present one with mention of your past. This gives a proper perspective to readers while leading them to the future.

Fairy tales are generally considered timeless but majority of them are written with past datelines. That’s because the modern world and science doesn’t accept the existence of fairies, goblins, banshees and other similar fictitious characters.

Location of Your Story

story locations

The location of your story is as important as its characters and the dateline. Meaning, you’ll have to select a place such as a village, town, city or even a distant planet or fictional world for setting the story. A superb example of how locations work is given by renowned American author, Mark Twain. 

His greatest books ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ among others, are set in Missouri, especially the town of Hannibal, Missouri and some of his later books are set by the banks of the river Mississippi. These are real-life locations.

On the other hand, famous Indian writer, RK Narayan sets his short stories in Malgudi, a fictional town in southern India located between real-world states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu but by the banks of a fictional river, Sarayu and imagined forest, Mempi. The entire collection of 32 short stories in ‘Malgudi Days’ book is set amidst such fictional location.

By giving a fictional or real world location, you’re actually taking readers to the place. This brings the book to life and people can relate with the place, even if it doesn’t exist. 

You can do so by including details of the place, similar to RK Narayan who includes fictitious river and forest as well as other elements. Or follow JK Rowling who blends the present with pure fantasy.

Visualize Various Situations

Visualize Situations

Obviously, every story deals with different situations in real-life or fiction. Hence, you’ll have to visualize such situations while writing the book. Normally, writing own experiences doesn’t require you to create or visualize a situation because you’ve been through them.

Things however can get tough if you’re going to visualize fictitious situations necessary for fantasy and science fiction books, mystery, thriller and horror books among others.

There’s only one way to do that. Think of the real life situations you’ve been through as well as the ones prevailing at this moment. And imagine them at another location and era. You could also bring alive your fantasies and dreams or visions to create a situation.

To give you an example, American author Pearl S. Buck wrote the book, ‘The Good Earth’ by dramatizing the life of a Chinese village family in the early 20th century.

This book became a bestseller in 1931 and 1932 while winning the author Pearl S. Buck, the Nobel Prize for Literature. This book is written from her experiences while young and living in China.

However, in stark contrast, British author Thomas Hardy wrote his famous novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles with a setting in the southern English county Dorset with neighboring counties such as Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon. The story and its situations revolve as well as its characters are all fictional.

Think About Sustainable Storyline

A storyline is nothing but the theme of a story or even a book. If you’re writing short stories and compiling them into a book, you’ll still require a storyline. And if you’re thinking of a single book, it’s important to have a sustainable plot or storyline. That’s because you’ll have to blend the timeline, characters and place carefully with the theme, story or plot of your book.

There’re three types of storylines.

  • Voluntary: such as romance novels where the characters fall in love on their own accord or voluntarily, without any external forces or circumstances influencing the decision.
  • Involuntary: usually covers horror, mysteries and also entertaining stories. Here, the characters are all drawn into the storyline and brought together to form the main story.
  • Forced: normally you’ll see these in detective and spy stories where the character is drawn forcibly into the storyline due to nature of their work or skill. James Bond series of books written by multiple authors is one such example.

Additionally, there’re seven sub storylines such as ‘Rags-to-Riches’, tragedy, comedy, revival, intrigue, family and drama.

Start Writing the Book

Now that you’ve all the right elements in place, simply start writing the book. You can start by describing a situation or scenario. Or with the description of the central character of your storyline.

Generally, the opening chapter is always about introducing the main elements of your story or theme to the reader. This means, you’ll have to introduce the character against the backdrop of the situation and relevance of your main character’s abilities.

As you go along, add the other characters by creating scenarios where they can enter the story.

Bestselling novel ’50 Shades of Grey’ by EL James traces the erotic relationship between two people, Anastasia Steele, a college graduate and Christian Grey, a businessperson.

This book, despite its heavy erotic leanings, is a classic example of how the author EL James creates various situations and brings in supporting characters and personal traits of the two central characters.

And if you’re a fan of Tin Tin comics, it’s easy to see how every plot revolves around the fictitious Belgian journalist trying to uncover something shady.

And in each comic, the author, Herge, introduces different characters such as Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus, the Thomson and Thompson sleuths, General Alcazar as well as Nestor, the butler and Snowy, the dog that Tin Tin owns. All the 24 stories of Tin Tin are set in different parts of the world, before and during the Cold War. 

If we examine characters in Tin Tin series carefully, we’ll find each has a different trait. For example, Captain Haddock is usually inebriated and uses swear words while Professor Calculus is shown as forgetful. Yet these characters are deftly blended by creating situations for their entry.

Writing Educational, Spiritual Books & Travelogues

We’ve seen above some basic tips to write a book that centers on fiction or real-life and its different genres. Now let’s look at some tips to write educational, spiritual books and travelogues.

Because these differ vastly from the earlier types of books. Hence, the requirements for writing educational, spiritual books and travelogues is much different.

Here’s what you’ll require to write an educational or spiritual book or a travelogue.

Astute Knowledge of the Topic

You cannot use fiction to write an educational or spiritual book and travelogues. Because, you might get into serious trouble with the law. 

Writing such types of books requires deep and astute as well as the latest knowledge about the subject.

If you’re writing an educational book, it’s compulsory to have strong credentials in that specific subject, regardless whether it’s a simple text book for school or complex reference book for super-specialty subjects such as robotics or neurosurgery.

And to write a travelogue, you’ll have to actually visit the place and experience it to the fullest by mingling with locals, learning about the culture and tradition of the place, reviewing local cuisine, shopping, crime rate and other minute details. 

Constant Research to Update Your Books

Also, you need constant research and staying in touch with the topic to update your educational or spiritual book and travelogue. That’s very important because technologies or even beliefs and situations at a place keep changing.

This means, if you fail to update, the book you’ve written would become redundant and vanish off the shelves of bookstores both online and offline. Because nobody wants outdated knowledge.

Writing educational and spiritual books or travelogues isn’t for everyone. It requires special qualifications and skills. And a brand name in that field.

Actually Writing a Book

Actually writing a book is the easiest part once you have all the other basics and essentials in place. Once you’ve organized own thoughts, created characters, selected the genre and decided on the storyline, writing becomes simple.

Here’re some tips to follow.

Language Doesn’t Matter

Actually language doesn’t matter. This doesn’t imply that you can get away with writing in poor language or wrong grammar.

There’s something known as the ‘Poetic License’. This isn’t any license from any government or authority.

Poetic License is simply the benefit that authors and poets get to use words vaguely or create new words to describe something that doesn’t exist or even in real world scenarios. Fantasy books such as Alice in Wonderland and those from the Harry Potter series are excellent examples.

Generally, your language should be simple and easy to understand. This attracts more people to read your books. Personally, I believe that a reader shouldn’t have to reach for the dictionary while reading a book.

Writing for Dramatization

Nowadays, most authors write their book for dramatization. This means, writing the book in a manner that it can easily be adapted to make a movie. A lot of books by legendary American author and movie director, Alfred Hitchcock fall in this category. His crime and detective books are now also available as movies, albeit with some adaptation.

When you have an interesting story and write a book using the above tips, there’s a good chance that some movie producer would like it and want to adapt it for a movie. This can bring you a lot of fame and money.

However, writing a book for dramatization isn’t easy. You need to use a lot of quote and attribute them to the various characters. This makes it easier for a scriptwriter to create the movie script.

Defining the characteristics or traits of you characters also helps movie producers select the right actors and actresses for the dramatization.

Blend Emotions

At the same time, it’s also essentials to bring out and describe the emotions of each character during the book, several times. Remember, you’re writing for real-life people and not lifeless elements. Like you and me, every real-life person feels various emotions. 

By blending emotions of characters in different situations, you’re actually helping the reader to connect with the story. They could imagine or actually have been in similar or almost the same circumstances. This prods them to read.

Blending emotion is possible only when you, as the author, assume the role of various characters in the story and try to copy their emotions. For example, how would you feel if you saw a ghost in your bedroom? Or if you were heartbroken?

These emotions are extremely important in any book because they help maintain the reader’s interest till the end.

Break it Into Chapters

If you see any good book, surely you’ll find it consists of several chapters. As a rule, every author breaks their books into various chapters because it deals with different situations, places, circumstances or brings in something new such as introducing another character.

Breaking a book into chapters also makes it easy to read. And the best part of it: you get opportunities to think about how to proceed further. You can write one chapter, rest and then think about how to go about writing the next.

Adding or deleting chapters is possible anytime during the writing process. It helps you modify the book where necessary, without the need to dump the entire project altogether.

There’re no upper limits on how many chapters you could add to the book. It all depends upon the storyline and how much you wish to write.

However, never include chapters only to lengthen a book. That causes readers to lose interest and can fetch you poor reviews. This can damage your reputation as author and that of the book irreparably. Therefore, add chapters only when absolutely necessary for your storyline and plot.

Easy Does It

As the old adage goes, easy does it. Meaning, never strain yourself to complete a chapter or the book itself. Remember, you’re writing a book and not running a race against competitors.

While some authors prefer deadlines for themselves, I personally don’t ever like these timeframes. Instead, writing is something that should be done at leisure and be an enjoyable experience.

If we read some biographies of authors, you’ll surely notice that a lot of them have spent years to complete a single book. That’s because a book has to be a work of art that speaks well about you and your knowledge or interest. In fact, that’s one of the reasons you should never write a book merely for money or fame.

Taking it easy allows you to polish the language, introduce more characters and situation or places and make the book more enjoyable to a reader. No great book was ever the work of an overnight writing.

Write When Inspired

While writing a book, you’ll come across several instances or reasons when you’re actually inspired to write. Grab these opportunities. Chapters and books that emerge from these inspirations usually make bestsellers.

At the same time, you can also write whenever you’re feeling down and depressed. This might come as a surprise. But putting down negative thoughts in words relieves depression. And such negative emotions are useful when you’re writing about some situation that’s occurring among characters in your story.

In Conclusion

Before concluding this article, I recommend that you go through the above tips rather carefully. Writing a book might sound like a cakewalk but it isn’t one, if you’re serious about touching the live of other people.

Because that’s what book are all about instead of being mere money spinning ventures. Vivid imagination, general knowledge and personal experiences as well as those of people in our lives are very useful to write a good book.

The success of every book is when you get people to identify with it and help them fulfil some purpose in life.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Excelente éste artículo, la es que resume un sin fin de pro y contras de cómo escribir un libro, pero al final te ayuda a revertir esos contras para ayudarte a escribir.

  2. I feel inspired reading this article and I hope to begin writing my first book. Thank you for this article so well explained.

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