Expert Tips to Begin Writing Your Book

Many people dream of someday writing a book, but without a clear message and plan of action very few will even write the first word. Here are some tips on how to start writing a book from an editor with more than a decade of publishing-industry experience and hundreds of manuscripts under her belt.

Define Your Pitch

So you’re ready to get started on your book? Excellent. What’s your pitch? What is the idea, proposal, concept, or character that sets you apart from others writing in your genre?

If you’re dipping your toe into the business and leadership market, do you have a management practice or business philosophy unlike any you’ve encountered in your career? Writing a book will be considerably easier if you can encapsulate your pitch or message in a concise three- to five-sentence description! A simple and solid thesis forms the foundation on which you can build the supporting ideas and arguments for your message. Do yourself a big favor, and refine your book’s elevator pitch until it is perfect! You’ll be glad you did.

Have you’ve developed a compelling and enthralling fictional narrative that you can’t wait to share with the world? Refining the plot for your work of fiction requires a similar degree of refinement as polishing the elevator pitch for your work of non-fiction. Do you have a plot outline? Who is your protagonist and what drives him or her through the action of the book—what goal or end result are they pursuing? If you can answer this basic question, you’ll be well on your way to building the essential elements of your plot, such as backstory, consequences, forewarnings, and costs (among others).

Outline Your Story

With your foundation in place, you can start to define and construct your book’s supporting points.

For works of non-fiction, especially in the business and leadership genre, it is important to identify the three to five points that best support your argument. Then begin to expand upon those points, always referring back to your message to ensure you stay on point. Defining and explaining your message and building out your three to five supporting points should give you sufficient content for a book-length manuscript. (55,000 words is a good benchmark for non-fiction in the business and leadership genre.)

For fiction, don’t underestimate the power of the robust plot outline. The best works of fiction weave tangled webs of time and relationships. But these can be very difficult to manage when you’re in the throes of writing dialogue and developing backstory and motive. So, set yourself up with a detailed outline on which to build your narrative. And don’t forget to define the look and feel of your time-period. Are you writing historical fiction? Do your research! Readers are an informed bunch—you don’t want your amazing story overshadowed by inadvertent anachronisms.

The Narrative Arc

Narrative arcs are not just for fiction. It’s critical for authors to guide their readers on a journey from beginning to end. Perhaps you have a compelling rags-to-riches story that parallels the lessons you’re sharing in your business and leadership book. Use that to build a narrative arc and take your reader on a well-defined journey. By sharing your story you are not only enhancing your message you are establishing your credibility.

One Final Word of Advice

Remember, writing a book is a generative process, and one to which you must commit. Like any new endeavor, practice makes you more effective and more efficient. So don’t be afraid to practice. Put pen to paper (yes, some writers still do this!) or commune with your laptop on a regular schedule. Can you commit to an hour each morning before you begin your workday? Or are you more creative at night when the rest of your house is asleep? Create a routine and set aside time each day to begin building your book, page by page. We can assure you, these book writing tips work!