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5 steps to start writing a book

1. Inspiration

You have an idea, an anecdote, an occurrence you want to delve into deeper. Inspiration often comes just like that, while at work, a day at the beach, working out,… Let it rest and ripen for a while. Maybe people amongst your acquaintances are ideal characters for your book. That beautiful spot you cycle along every day could form a perfect setting. Keep this information in a scratchpad or draw a mind map by hand. These 5 steps to start writing a book can help you later on or contribute to the process.

2. Deepen

The characters from your book will start to gain more depth, the setting more details. These persons have jobs, children, families, traumas, happy times,… Research and connect these elements. For instance, Person A, in scene A, in area A. Please remember: Everything is possible and anything goes. No strings attached. There is still room enough for change. Make it easier on yourself by imagining it visually. Take pen and paper and create a storyboard in which you write down or draw the big picture, the profiles, and character sketches.

3. Making Choices

Steps 1 and 2 remained fairly vague. Now you take the first steps to a definite choice. Choose a lead character and what drives him/her. This is the ‘main theme’. Try to stay true to this so that the reader can relate to your story. Keep in mind, with several story lines, the main theme remains the guiding principle. Are you going to write down the events chronologically or would you prefer to work out the important (main) scenes first? The choice is yours. Stay alert and keep the thrill. Have you lost your way? Revert to the storyboard and the character sketches. Take your time. Let it simmer overnight if you have to.

4. Explore

This is where you will write a number of scenes, in a particular location, including some important personages. Does it feel right? Or should you make some changes? It’s your book. So take your time to work it out properly. You aren’t happy? Start again; find a new angle, new characters, or even a different location. A tip: visit the site (or stay there while writing). This can give you new insights in the development of your book. This location can become a source of inspiration. For instance: you are sitting at a pond in a park. You can plot “pond” (mind mapping) by linking it to other words: Pond>Water>Ducks>Crumbs>… This way you can discover new angles.

5. Start!

Start! Right, the major components in preparation are over. Now start writing your book… You won’t need to know all the details for this. While writing you will discover a lot more. That journey is fun! If you think you already know everything in detail, you might be setting yourself up for failure and writing might start to bore you. So: start and use these 5 steps to start writing a book! Better to work on an idea, then to brood on it for months with nothing to show for in the end…

And now we move on to the next step: Choosing a good theme for my book.

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