People will tell you not to draw from your own life experience for fear of it being,
- Too boring or,
- Without conflict verging down the path of the Mary Sue.
But let me tell you that it is not true because,
- I haven’t lived your life and,
- We all know you sometimes look around for your phone while holding it in your hand.
For your book, make sure you have covered the six stages of story development:
- Exposition: The introduction to the characters and central conflict or goal of the story
- The inciting incident: The event that sets the story in motion
- Rising action: Plot complications that increase tension and raise stakes so that the reader wants to know the outcome pressingly
- Climax: The crucial moment at which all the preceding action has built to a make-or-break moment
- Falling action: The tension decreases slightly as the story’s resolution approaches
- Resolution: Loose ends are tied and the reader feels a satisfying sense of arrival
Make sure before you begin your first draft that you know your main characters like your best friends.
- What is their primary goal?
- What are the internal conflicts that could trip them up in reaching it?
- What’s their pet dog called?
- What are the external forces that could get in their way and create story tension and conflict?
- How do they sleep at night?
Sometimes it’s good to go back to a basic thesaurus to light up your writing.
When editing ask yourself these questions as you go:
- How does this chapter contribute to the story arc (what is its point?)
- Is there any section that could be more concise or flow better?
- Are all character motivations clear?
- Am I giving readers a clear enough sense of place with setting description?
- Would a first-time reader have enough information to make sense of the story, its plot and sequence of events?
Once you have completed your first draft, make sure the story as a whole delivers what it promised, rather than immediately going into the details.
Read in your genre.
Read outside your comfort zone.
Stop playing around with your fonts!
I don’t care about Helvetica vs Times New Roman. I care about you writing.
Let’s do the maths.
Consider that the average book is between 60, 000 to 100, 000 words long.
If you want to write your book in exactly one year, to get your daily word count divide by 365: Approximately 164 to 274 words per day.
Keep in mind that you won’t simply write your book from start to finish because you’ll need to revise and edit (and might flounder occasionally). Realistically, aim for writing at least twice the number of words you need for a draft per day (approximately 500). This will help to make sure you stay on target.
Learn the rules of good writing…
then learn how to break them.