Today’s guest post comes to you from Andi Katsina, a British born writer who has spent a lot of her life in Manchester but who now lives in Panama… later there will be an interview with her and her full bio. For now, however, here is an article aimed at absolute beginners – the basic fundamentals of novel writing with some tips on how to make it seem easy.
How do I write a book?
By Andi Katsina
Countless readers have told me they too have a great idea for a story, and have wanted to write a book for a very long time. My reply to them all is the same; you can do it if you really want to! More often than not that reply is often met with the admittance, ‘I do want to, but I don’t know how to go about it.’ To all of you who really do want to write a book but don’t know how, this is for you.
First and foremost, don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect! Secondly, believe that you can do it!
So let’s take it from there….
Having developed your idea into a coherent stream, you must further mold it into a story. Giving it a beginning, middle and ending is the easiest approach. Using material for a topic you have a strong desire to talk about can also make this first stage easy to achieve.
Now, if you have your idea but don’t yet have an ending, fear not. Start with what you have, be that a ‘beginning’ or a ‘middle’. You have your story, or part thereof, now you must organize it into an order that will afford the reader the greatest understanding.
A good way of keeping your story on target, getting from the beginning to the ending, is to use chapter headings. At this stage in the process don’t be worried if you don’t have any chapters, simply think about your story and the logical way you want to relay it. There’ll be naturally divisible sections, places where you can break the story down; possibly a change of location, change of activity or the introduction of new characters. These things don’t always warrant a new chapter, but if you’re struggling to find suitable breaks in the story, these can be good chapter openers. As for those of you who do have chapters, you’re well on the way.
So, make a list of your chapter headings, numbering and naming each one. Yep, do not worry if you don’t have names for your chapters, if you do have, you’re almost ready to write. No chapter names? Then just go with numbers. Really guys, if you want to write a book, let’s eliminate the things that you think are there to stop you .
I personally think this next part of the process will really put you on the road to writing your first book. It’s very easy, though I ought to mention at this point that there’s a wide array of techniques writers can choose from in order to get set up to write their next book. The method detailed here is extremely easy and you can do it, if you really do want to write a book.
Choose a word processing program, Open Office (free), Microsoft etc. Open up a new blank document and then write in big bold letters, the title of your story, aligned in the centre of the page. Directly underneath that write, by your name. Insert lots of paragraph spaces and then type the word; Chapters, large, bold and aligned to the left of the page. Below this word insert your list of chapters with number and names. I tell ya’, that’s gonna look good, and it’s going to make you feel as though you’re about to create something rather special. At this stage you shouldn’t be concerned with formatting, sales, promotion or readership. These aren’t the considerations that drive real writers, a genuine writer writes to tell the story. We are storytellers. Everything else, apart from formatting, is a bonus.
Of course formatting will come into play, importantly so. However, if you’re new to all of this, then I strongly advise you to leave it aside until you finish your book. Wrestling with an unfamiliar word processing program can be time consuming, and if you haven’t even started writing, it can throw a spanner in the works and put you off ‘lifting the pen’. Maintain a standard amount of formatting as you type, this is easy to do, and please ensure you use page numbers. Admittedly if you’ve only written ten or so pages, you can scroll back and forth if you need to recheck a sentence. However, if you have fifty, a hundred, or a hundred and fifty pages, trying to scroll through your manuscript without page numbers… you get the message. To insert page numbers, go to the ‘insert’ tab along the very top of the screen, in between view and format, usually, you should find the insert page numbers option under that menu. Another tip, just a thought, if you do need to find something, a word, phrase or sentence; go ahead and use the ‘find’ facility, usually ctrl + F will bring this up for you.
If you want to dedicate your work, make a space in between by your name and Chapters, insert Dedicated to ——. The best way to do this is to use separate pages, but this is not essential.
Now, insert more paragraph spaces taking you way below the list of chapters, or simply break to the next page and type Chapter 1 in big bold letters. Underneath that, also in big letters, you can write the name of the chapter. No name yet? No problem, simply insert a short line of dashes, each time you see the dashes it will spur you on to coming up with a chapter name.
So as to be forward thinking, and also to give yourself a sense of progression, insert a load more paragraph spaces and then write Chapter 2, again in big bold letters, and again underneath that write the name of the chapter, or dashes. Repeat this until you have a tidy row, with big spaces in between, of the chapters, number and name, or dashes. For the last chapter, you can write the chapter number + Conclusion, if you like, again insert the chapter name, or dashes, immediately below.
Amazingly simple. You now have the basic structure of your manuscript, showing the beginning, middle and ending of your book. Let me show you an example:
Rick & Wylie’s Fantastical, Magical Adventures book 1
:: by Andi Katsina ::
Dedicated to ::
:: Chapter 1 Dad! = write the text for this chapter here
:: Chapter 2 Hawaii = write the text for this chapter here, and so on until all the chapters are completed….
:: Chapter 12 The Vupan Juniper Forest
:: Chapter 13 Rick’s Resurface
:: Chapter 24 Conclusion Dad!! Fin.
The only thing you need to add to the structure you’ve created is words, and I have great confidence that you can do that, if you really want to.
Begin by writing a few lines beneath Chapter 1. Or, if you are not able or willing to begin with there, select another from your contents list and find the corresponding chapter number in your manuscript construction outline. Voilà, begin typing a few lines below the chapter name.
I told you not to worry about not having an ending to your story. No ending? Please do not let this stop you. A great many writers begin writing with no ending in mind. Ordinarily, what usually happens in these circumstances is that as they write the story they become directed by its contents, continuously being edged on to chapter after chapter, and before long even the ending pleasantly presents itself.
If you’ve always wanted to write a book, please understand that you can actually choose to write the book instead of simply wanting to, the choice is yours, my friend.
The very best of luck, you are about to write your first book : )
So, you want to write your story down and turn it into a book… a novel? Let’s get started then!
I hope this is useful. Happy storytelling.
Kind regards Andi Katsina Author of Rick & Wylie’s Fantastical, Magical Adventures www.theindieoracle.com
Readers can purchase the book in hardcopy ; http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/095557952X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=095557952X