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  1. Karl C. Lewis
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    Karl C. Lewis Member

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    How to Write a Book 101

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Karl C. Lewis, May 1, 2010.

    Now I know that I am probably the most novice person here on this forum when it comes to book writing, but seeing how I have been working on a book for two years, I think I might be able to shed some advice.

    Reading around the forum, there are many questions people have about plot development, character development, and even just as simple as creating a plot. I have struggled with each and every one of these types of problems that people have on this forum, and I have finally come up with a simple way to develop an entire book.

    STEP #1:
    First, you start with a basic idea or the conflict. I like to think of it as a skeleton. There are only so many basic plots (or conflicts) and ideas in the world and each one has been done over countless times. It isn't that conflict that makes the story but what you shape around it. I think a great example is Harry Potter. It has a basic conflict, a boy who's parents were murdered and the boy wants to do something about it, but that is not what I think makes the story. It is the fact that Rowling put this boy in the middle of a world of witches and wizards where young kids go to a school in another world type place. I could go on about great stories like this but thankfully for you I won't. So what is the point? The point is, don't fret over making this killer conflict, anything to complicated and you will loose the interest of your readers.

    STEP #2:
    Now that you have a basic conflict, how do you make your story original? This is where it gets difficult. I myself have rolled over in bed trying to think of a killer story numerous times with no result. Unless you are J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. Tolkien, you are going to spend half your life trying to come up with a concept, with the exception of being struck by the lightening idea. In order for your conflict to succeed, you need to add meat, muscle, and flesh to your skeleton. How you shape your body is totally up to you and depends on the type of story you are writing, but all in all you need feedback. Once you come up with an idea, go to someone you trust who is creative and tell them your idea and then ask for advice on what you can do to make your story more attractive to your readers. Two important things to keep in mind as well when you are deciding on how to shape your story are patience and letting go. Be patient with your ideas, it might be workable, but if you give it more time, you can create something even more original and exciting. Just remember not to spend too many years trying to finalize your idea. Also, don't be afraid to let go. If you have this idea and it really isn't working, but you seem to have grown attached to this idea, let it go. I know it can be tough, I have done it before, but it honestly is the best thing to do. Store it away in a file and you can come back to it on another project.

    STEP #3:
    While you are developing your story, you also will should be thinking about who your main characters are and the kind of people they are. You might even want to do this before you develop your body or even in the middle of it. The thing is that how you shape your story will define who your characters should be and how many of them there should be. Just like if all a person consumes is cigarette and beer, he is going to turn into a wrinkly old guy with a pot belly. In the same way how you form your plot is how your character is going to direct your character into who they are.

    STEP #4:
    Now we are onto the good stuff. Once you have your skeleton and body, it is time to get down and dirty by creating an outline. In the outline, you should note major points and events that happen to bring the character and personality to your body so that he or she can become a human. Every scene, every encounter, every sentence has a purpose. Billy losses his mom in one chapter and then is bullied by a gang in another chapter all have a purpose of giving the reader a reason why he finally explodes and kills his friend in the final chapters of the story. Through these misfortunes, you will show that Billy is going through a lot. He has lost his mother and is bullied by the other kids making him feel unloved and like the whole world is after him. He bottles it up inside and meditates on it which makes him become even more emotional until the very end when he lets it all out and kills his friend which now leaves him with an upside down stomach. See what I am getting at? Create an outline that shows how you are going to not only develop your story but also your characters. You can do this by creating sub plots; little twists and turns that shove your character(s) to the edge where they might fall off. One major thing to keep in mind is that your character needs to have problems such as Billy. A favorite quote of mine concerning writing is from Jessica Morrell, a professional editor and author, who writes in her book Thanks, But This Isn't For US, "Fiction isn't written to delight readers. Its purpose is to rattle their nerves, elevate their blood pressure, and mess with their sleep. A contented reader isn't one who keeps turning the pages late into the night." That think that sums this step up pretty well.

    Once you have done that you can now write your book and then go through the arduous task of editing it. Hope this helps!

    Cheers,
    Karl C. Lewis
     
  2. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    I would like to add something about having your MC have a problem or conflict:

    A lot of people over think the development of a conflict for their MC to have. Something useful to consider is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Simple conflicts will never be too complicated for your readers to grasp. For example: 'MC is trapped in a place they don't want to be' is a simple, yet effective conflict. Readers become interested in the steps you write about on how MC goes from being trapped somewhere to eventually finding a way out (or maybe you don't like happy endings, haha). But yeah, stop over-thinking this stuff guys!
     
  3. Karl C. Lewis
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    Karl C. Lewis Member

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    No that is like what I am saying. Just have a basic conflict, and then shape your story around that idea. Like you were saying the steps. But it isn't like A leads to B and then B leads to C which leads to MC finding a way out, there are things that MC struggles with, has problems with, etc, which he has to deal with and overcome. My Billy example was quite sad haha, but it really applies to anything....even happy stories.
     
  4. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I think you raise some interesting points. I do agree that conflict is important when it comes to the MC. For me, when I think of something like this, empathy plays a big role. If I can't relate to the the MCs conflict, I tend to not care as much. So when I'm trying to think up a story I try to think of things that I and the majority of people deal with daily. Whether that has to do with self-esteem, loneliness, dealing with a lack of talent, dealing with failure, etc.

    I also think this is a good approach because you can work in strengths that may be a result of their conflict. For example, having a lack of natural talent in comparison to people around him/her, this could cause the MC to have an incredible amount of determination to make up for it.
     

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