8 Steps to Writing a Book - My Personal Formula
It’s not that I ever really thought about my process of writing until my cousin asked me for a guide because she was having difficulty with getting her thoughts organized and staying on track. So, a few years back, I came up with 8 steps. I had forgotten about these until recently when she brought them up. I didn’t remember sending them to her at all, but after looking over them, I realized I still follow the same process. Things have changed a little bit as my writing has developed, but overall, I keep to this pattern. Not every author writes with the exact same method, however, this is apparently what works for me.
If you’re wanting to get into writing, or you’re stuck trying to figure out how to create a flow, I’ve detailed my process for you. If it works for you, great! If not, then this is a great starting point. This isn’t a be-all-end-all to writing. What works for me won’t work for everyone. However, if you’re like me and have a tendency to get distracted with creating background content rather than actually writing the story, then perhaps this will help give you a bit of direction.
Step 1: Plan your main characters
This is where character profile sheets come in handy. There is an abundance to be found on the internet for you to utilize, or you can create your own. It’s okay if you don’t have all the information right away, but you need to know who the driving force for your story is.
- Who is your antagonist?
- Who is your protagonist?
- Are there any other significant characters?
Know your characters. They will help you create the rest.
Step 2: Outline
Once you know who your characters are, it’s time to outline their story. This doesn’t have to be done in major detail. You don’t need to know every single step. What you want is the overarching elements lined up to give direction to your characters. What is it you want them to accomplish? What is the end goal? And what are some major events along the way. If you’re someone who can come up with an entire story idea with incredible detail, more power to you. If not, more power to your characters! Haha!
-Begin with outlining the basic details. *Note: this might only be half a page worth of bullet points.
- Make sure you outline from start to finish.
Step 3: Split your outline into chapters
Once you have the basic outline and direction for your story, you can begin adding details such as events. If you’re more of a fly-by-the-seat of your pants kind of writer, then you can add less detail, or even skip this step all together. But one thing I want to make clear is this: even if you add more details, it doesn’t mean you’re taking freedom away from your characters to influence the story. I like to add detailed elements to my chapter outlines so I know where my characters need to get to. I don’t design every step they’re going to take. I leave it up to them how they’re going to get to where I want them to go. Sometimes it means they take the long way around. Other times there’s no beating around the bush. An outline doesn’t mean you’re tied to a singular path. It’s meant to help give you a path to follow, even if you end up diverging from it along the way. That’s cool too!
- Include plot points that can be split into scenarios and scenes.
- Don’t worry about chapter titles.
Step 4: Write!
- Write, and do not look back.
- Write from the beginning and go straight through to the end.
- Save questions for later. What I mean by this is collect thoughts and questions along the way, but don’t try to implement them right away if they’re related to something earlier in the story. Keep them in a file or notebook where you can look at them later. Save them for editing.
Step 5: Answer your questions
- This is the process of detailing all the background information.
- You’ve gathered your questions, so now it’s time to answer them.
- Update your character profiles.
- Fill out the world.
- Set rules and regulations for your world (if applicable).
- Draw maps.
Step 6: Edit
This is where the fun happens. You’ve got the bones of your story, and now you get to add muscles and tissue by incorporating all new info you’ve laid down.
- Fix plot flow.
- Build on character development.
- Get your wordcount up.
Step 7: Edit and revise until you're happy
This step will likely take the most amount of time. This is where you perfect and polish your story to your best capability. It might include getting a professional editor to help you hash out flaws. It might include getting beta readers to let you know what readers enjoy or dislike about your book. (Ouch, I know.) You might want to try reading it out loud at least once as that will help you catch mistakes you might miss while reading in your head. Take as much time as you need for this as you will likely be required to go over your story several times.
Step 8: Enjoy your finished product!
This one is actually kind of tough. For myself, I know I always think there’s more that I could do to make the story better. However, if you ever want to have a finished product, eventually you have to stop. From this point, you can go onto further steps like publishing and marketing, but that’s a whole other situation.
Voila! You’ve written a book! Congratulations!
I hope this was helpful in some way. Remember to never stop dreaming, never stop playing, and always have the courage to believe!