How to Write a Book
Today I thought I’d share with you how I write a book.
There are probably a lot of ways to write a book, the same way that there are a lot of ways to clean the kitchen or knit a sweater. What works for one person doesn’t make a lot of sense for another person. This is what works for me, but you know… results will vary. As you can see from the pics above, I have lots of help from the pets, and I write in a variety of places (back porch, AirBnB, office). Sometimes I’m on my desktop and sometimes I’m on a laptop. Whatever is handy.
- The first thing I do is spend some time deciding WHO I want to write about. Who are these people? What are there dreams? What is their past? Why are their paths crossing at this moment? And how does that complicate things? How does it, ultimately, resolve things?
- Once I have the main characters in my mind, I write a short synopsis (summary) of the story. It’s not chiseled in stone. I can change it. But this is what I think will happen. I send that off to my fabulous editor who makes suggestions and/or simply approves it. For a series, these books are all approved at once–not in detail, just the overall idea. I’ve been working on a new series, Indiana Amish Market, and those books have all been approved in theory.
- When I receive that approval, I begin writing. For me, the beginning is easy. I start the story in the middle of something happening (usually the two characters meeting), and then I see where things go. It’s important to establish who these people are, intrigue the reader, and detail the setting. It’s crucial to hint at the problems to come. Once I have close to 50 pages, I send that back off to my editor and work on something different while I wait.
- When I have approval (which takes 2-4 weeks), then I’m off and running. It takes me about 8 weeks to write the rest of the novel. Each morning, I begin by looking back over the previous day’s work (for no more than an hour), and then I tackle my word count for the day. Yes, I have a set word count. It’s usually between 1,500 and 2,500 words a day. Maybe one good scene or half of a chapter. Somewhere toward the middle of the book, I stop what I’m doing and go write the ending–the BEST ending I can imagine. Then I go back to where I stopped and write to the end. That’s a little strange, but it works for me.
- Once I finish, I send it off to my pre-readers–Kristy and Tracy. They’ve been doing this for me a long time, and they are great at catching my mistakes. This also serves to give me a break from the story so I can look at it with fresh eyes. I receive it back in 2-4 weeks (in the meantime, I’m working on something else or taking a small vacation which is usually a STAYcation). When I receive it back, I start on page one and work through to the end, considering Kristy’s and Tracy’s suggestions and adding in more details and tension. This takes another 1-2 weeks.
This is when I finally allow myself to type the words The End, and then I send the finished product off to my editor. This is a happy day! I celebrate by watching a movie with hubby or going out for dinner or casting on a new knitting project. Yes, my celebrations get wild like that.
Yesterday, I sent the second book in my Indiana Amish Market to my editor. YOU won’t read this book until next spring, but no worries…we’ll have other books coming out between now and then. In fact, The Amish Twins Next Door releases later this month.
So that’s it. That’s how I write a book! Of course, those are just the first steps. Once my fantastic editor has it, we start the editing and proofreading phase. I’ll talk about that in another post.
In the meantime, comment with the name of a book that has delighted you recently. It doesn’t have to be one of my books (eyeroll). I recently finished These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon. It was lovely. You can read my review here. Now tell me, what have you been reading? Or, if you have a question about writing, feel free to post it in the comments section, and I’ll try to answer it.