Over the past week, I’ve encountered several posts in various groups by people asking how to start writing their books. They range from “How to I write a novel?” to “I don’t know what to write; can you help me?”
The flippant answer is: “Once upon a time …”
For people who have little to no experience writing books but have a story idea and want to produce the Great American Novel, there’s no one sure way to do this that does not involve the following:
- Reading in the genre you wish to write. It’s crucial to understand the genre’s tropes that your readers will expect. Reading the bestsellers in that genre will provide you with an understanding as to what readers today enjoy and will buy. That is necessary for marketabilty and commercial success.
- Writing. There’s no way to get around the production of your novel without writing. You may use AI to produce content, but understand that the content will be banal and quite likely in violation of many authors’ copyrights. The only way to become good at writing is to do what every other craft or skill requires: practice and evaluation.
Just about everyone learns the basics of writing in school; however, that doesn’t mean everyone is good at it. (I took advanced algebra way back when and—trust me—I am not good at math.) One way to improve your mastery of the craft of writing is to analyze your favorite authors’ work. What about their writing appeals to you? Note their sentence structure, the language they use, and how they use it. Then emulate their writing. Do that enough and you’ll develop your own style and voice. It also helps to understand the conventions of good grammar so that you understand the structure and mechanics of language. When you have that comprehension, you can then break those language conventions to great effect because you know when, how, and why you’re doing do.
A lot of first-time authors also flounder when they finish their drafts and realize their stories are not nearly as perfect as they’d hoped. In fact, the truism is that your first draft will be garbage. Get used to it.
The first draft is meant for the writer’s eyes only. It’s not to be shared. The purpose of the first draft is to get the story down. The second draft is for developing and refining the story: integrating those disparate parts into a cohesive whole. This means filling in those polt holes, weaving together subplots, tying up loose ends, and finessing the language. When you’ve done that, it’s time to work on a third draft.
Every story begins with an idea. That idea may be a “what if” type of scenario, an entire scene that ignites the urge to write, or something else. The truth is an idea is not valuable in itself. Ideas are plentiful and worthless: development of ideas takes time, effort, and skill. That’s where the value lies.
The second type of aspiring author who doesn’t even have an idea isn’t ready to write a story. What such people want is to have written a story. If you want the title of “author” and don’t have the skill, inclination, or motivation to do the actual writing, then consider hiring a ghostwriter.
Let’s say you love westerns. You’ve watched those movies with Clint Eastwood, James Garner, John Wayne, and John Ford and you’ve read the books by Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey and you just love them. You want to be the author of a western. This is where AI can help you.
Enter some names that appeal to you and would be appropriate for the era. Include some character traits to add depth. Enter some plot points you want to hit: a stampede, a gunfight, a saloon brawl, a cattle drive, a stagecoach journey, a train robbery, etc. AI content generators will help you come up with a story summary or synopsis that you can adapt into an outline. Or hire a ghostwriter who will adapt the synopsis into an outline, then write an original story for you.
The “idea” is yours; the output is yours, too, because ghostwriting is work-for-hire and you will own it. The benefit of hiring a ghostwriter is that you don’t have to spend countless hours (or years) mastering the craft of writing, and the ghostwriter (who has that well-developed expertise) will write the story better than you can.
Hen House Publishing specializes in fiction ghostwriting, particularly in the genres of fantasy, romance, and westerns. If you have a manuscript that’s ready to progress in the publishing journey, Hen House Publishing offers substantive editing, proofreading, and book design services. Put 30-plus years of experience to work for your book.
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