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How to Write a Book

Writing a book is a process both simple and complex. Simple in that there only a handful of steps. Complex in that each step requires a great depth of thought and effort. While there are no hard and fast rules of writing, and each writer has their own preferences for doing things, here are Five Steps to serve as guidelines for any prospective author.

Step 1- The Idea

Every book, from memoirs to self-help, from poetry collection to science-fiction, from children’s book to fantasy epic, began as an Idea. Perhaps your idea starts with a setting or character. Perhaps there is a topic or subject you feel can be explored in a way unique to you. Perhaps there are certain story conventions you feel have been overused, and want to see what kind of story you create when you flip those conventions on their heads?

Step 2- Prewriting

Explore your idea. Free write as much you can think of, as much comes to mind. Explore your idea as far as possible, see if it can be expanded enough to be a story. Write down all the elements, concepts, themes, and specific scenes you can come up with. Take this time do research. Find out if this is material you feel you can write about. See what others have said or written about your chosen subject. Even if you are writing fiction in a fantasy or science-fiction setting, research can help further shape your thoughts. After free writing and research, it is time to organize. Arrange your ideas, outline your thoughts and plot.

Step 3- The First Draft

With your ideas for your story, the research you’ve done, and an outline to guide you it is time to start writing. Find a place without distractions, somewhere where you are comfortable but not too comfortable, where you can focus. Then just write, write, and keep writing. Try to get into a habit of writing regularly and constantly. If you ever feel “stuck” or feel like you have writer’s block, take a short break… then return to writing even if you don’t like what you write at the time. This is only the first draft, perfection comes later. What is important at this point is completing your manuscript.

Step 4- Revise & Edit

After completing the first draft of your manuscript comes revision and editing. This can be one of the hardest parts of the entire book-writing process. While this step does involve correcting grammatical and spelling errors, it is also much more than that. There will be sentences, paragraphs, even whole chapters that you loved putting into writing… that you will have to cut out of the story for a variety of reasons. Acclaimed and prolific author Stephen King called this “killing your darlings.” You will need to include new lines and segments to enrich & enhance what is already there, or even outright replace what had to be removed.

It is vital and even best practice to get at least one person other than yourself to review your first draft. Even the best authors need others to look over their work to find mistakes or complications they themselves have missed or overlooked. Perhaps even multiple reviewers will be needed, each one focusing on a different aspect of the manuscript such as narrative or grammatical.

Step 5- Final Draft

After your manuscript has undergone multiple rounds of revision and editing, it is time for your final draft. Contact iUniverse or follow these steps from How to Publish a Book

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